Career showcase exposes youths to future job possibilities

Posted on: October 14, 2022

PORT CLINTON NEWS MESSENGER — The future looked a little brighter for the nearly 500 local ninth graders who attended the 8th Ottawa County Career Showcase at the Gary Anderson Competition Center at Camp Perry on Friday. The event was hosted by the Ottawa County Business Advisory Council, which was honored by a surprise visit from Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik.

After touring the event, Mihalik presented a proclamation from Gov. Mike DeWine recognizing Oct. 7, 2022 as Manufacturing Day.

Accepting the proclamation from Mihalik were Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC) President Ken Williams, OCIC Executive Director Chris Singerling, OCIC Manager of Communications and Programs Jessica Grzechowiak, Ottawa County Commissioner Mark Coppeler, and Oak Harbor Mayor Quinton Babcock.

Mayor Babcock, Ken Williams, Director Mihalik, Jessica Grzechowiak, Mark Coppeler, Chris Singerling with Governor DeWine’s National Manufacturing Day proclamation.

The Ottawa County Career Showcase provided about 470 local freshmen with hands-on experience in a variety of different fields. Although the event is traditionally hosted on Manufacturing Day, it exposed students to a number of different industries, including tourism, health care and hospitality. Businesses and organizations at the event included Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District, Air National Guard, Catawba Island Club, GenoaBank and Firelands Forward.

“We see it as an opportunity to introduce over 30 employers from around the county to high school freshmen from all six school districts,” Singerling said. “We had a good cross-section of different careers.”

Graymont Dolime station showing students how to cook eggs during their activity.

Focus was to offer students engaging activities

During the event, students rotated among the business displays where they met workers from a variety of industries and tried their hand at some of those workers’ daily tasks.

“The focus was on engaging activities. Every business here had to have something to engage the group,” Williams said.

Davis Besse Site Protection staff taught students how to safely handle a firearm and how to perform basic locksmith tasks. They also talked to students about the various career options at the nuclear power plant, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, radiation protection and nuclear security.

“There’s a lot of room for advancement and change here. I’d say half the plant started in security,” said Matthew Muzik, a Davis Besse firearms instructor. “There’s a lot of career movement within the company. Our plant will help you get in the field you want.”

Davis Besse Site Protection teaching student locksmith techniques.

Students heard about similar career advancement opportunities in the Ottawa County Sanitary Engineering Department. As students tried on bulky safety gear, Operations Manager Steve Wagner told them about salary potential in the department. Within ten to 15 years, employees can make up to $120,000 annually.

“When you get your license, which the county assists with, you can make a good amount of money in a short amount of time,” Wagner said.

Alex Pavlica, a ferry captain for Jet Express, talked to kids about teen summer job opportunities and the potential for those jobs to turn into careers.

Youths encouraged to learn through summer jobs

“I started on a crew, and now I’m a captain,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for growth at the Jet Express.”

Mihalik was grateful that the Business Advisory Council was hosting an event where students could learn about the promising careers they could pursue, including lucrative occupations that don’t require a college degree.

USG station showing students how to make molds.

“Lots of time, students aren’t aware those jobs exist,” Mihalik said. “Opportunities like this, where local leaders work with businesses and industries, show students what their potential is, and that potential is solid. It’s a great opportunity for a wonderful life.”

Mihalik said that potential is especially strong within the state.

“In Ohio, we’re creating jobs faster than we can fill them,” she said.

Through the Career Showcase, the Business Advisory Council was proactively helping to fill some of that void within the county. Students such as Michael Seeger of Woodmore discovered new career options they hadn’t yet considered.

“I may want to go into welding,” he said. “It was fun.”

At the end of the day, students saw many more paths open into their future, and employers caught the interest of potential future employees.

“This has definitely been such a great event,” Grzechowiak said. “I’ve seen a lot of kids engaging with employers.”