AWHS Career Fair Links Seniors With Opportunities

Lee Daher and Dan Morey, of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, spoke to students. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Army National Guard Sgt. Jason Nowicki remembers what it’s like to be an Anthony Wayne High School senior pondering what’s next: education, employment or enlistment. 

A 2007 graduate, Nowicki joined the Army National Guard in 2010 and now is a recruiter – and the parent of children in the AW school system.

On March 1, he was back in the high school gymnasium as one of more than 40 professionals who set up displays and spoke to 280 seniors for the first career fair since 2019.

“We want to expose students to all the opportunities they have post-graduation, whether it’s enlistment, education or employment,” said Stephanie Buckenmeyer, who is the assistant principal for 7-12 curriculum and career development. “By the time they cross the stage at graduation, they should be doing one of those three.”

While Nowicki spoke to students about how the Guard can help pay for college while providing career training, representatives spoke to members of the Class of 2022 about other options, including the trades, technical industries, human services careers, education and even summer job opportunities. 

Kaufman Engineered Systems mechanical engineers Eric Creps and Allan Gindy showcased some of the FANUC brand robotics the Waterville company uses to automate processes like palletizing, stretch wrapping and packaging. 

“Our goal is to get more people interested in engineering,” Gindy said.

For those who prefer more people-to-people interaction, Sunshine is looking for direct care personnel to help people with disabilities thrive, said hiring manager Michelle Glowacki. 

“The students who have an interest are those who have a passion for caregiving,” said Glowacki, noting that AWHS students have been involved with Sunshine through donations and volunteering. “A lot of people know us and love what we do.”

Costco managers Mindi Rossler and Courtney Drewyer spoke with students including Anika Jinka, Maria Lyon, Jazzlynn Hollerbach and Emma Palmer about what they love about working for the wholesale club.

“Once you get your foot in the door, it’s job security, great pay and a super-fun place to work,” said Rossler, who looks for employees who prioritize taking care of customers and fellow employees.

Health care organizations are continually looking for talent, starting with high school graduates, said Bon Secours Mercy Health nurse recruiter Zach Shaw.

“It’s a great path with great educational benefits,” Shaw said. For those who want to get into nursing, Mercy will pay for 100 percent of college costs while students go through a program that begins with working as a nursing assistant, then doing clinicals and rotations to get experience in a variety of areas. 

Emily Morgan, a 2014 AW graduate with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science, is now lead clinic scribe for iScribeMD. Medical scribes accompany doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to patient rooms and complete the medical documentation on their behalf, Morgan explained. Scribes are present during all aspects of the patient encounter, including examinations, procedures and all patient-provider interactions. It’s a great position for those trying to get into medical school or physician assistant programs, she said.

“We’re able to learn about specialties and the system and it counts for clinical hours,” said Morgan, who wants to get into PA school.

Several trades-related organizations were on hand for the career fair, including the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 886. 

The Local 886 is for cement masons, concrete finishers, painters, roofers and insulators, said Jeff Osterhout, the union’s business agent. Students stopped by to look at samples of roofing and other materials on display, or to ask about starting wages.

“It’s all hands-on work. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction with what you do,” Osterhout said.

A lot of students know the trades are a viable alternative but may not always be aware of all the options, said Cassie Tinta, director of marketing and relations for VM Systems – a provider of heating, ventilation and air conditioning sheet metal ductwork. She was joined by VM Systems superintendent Kevin Connors and Eric Stack, partnership development representative with the SMART 33 union that represents sheet metal, air, rail and transportation workers.

The most common question Stack heard from students was, “What do you do?”

Using specialized tools, sheet metal workers cut, roll, bend and shape pieces into ductwork, signs and even decorative art, Tinta said.

Connors, who lives in the AW area, said he was happy to be able to bring information about the trade to the high school – something that most schools didn’t encourage a decade ago. VM Systems has a program to mentor high school students about the trade. Smart 33 then provides a five-year apprenticeship with on-the-job training.

“Our goal is to get them working,” said Stack, who has spent a lot of time recently meeting with area guidance counselors to explain the job and its benefits, including good pay. 

Several area universities also set up tables for the career fair, including Northwest State Community College, Owens Community College and Bowling Green State University, and the University of Toledo. 

For students who are heading to college but unsure of how to pay for tuition, the Anthony Wayne Alumni Association is offering $14,000 in scholarships this year, said board member Wendy Gehring. Applications, which are due on Wednesday, March 23, are available at www.awalumni.org.

The seniors also had an opportunity to gain other career-related skills, such as networking and interviewing. Rachel Wixey, a parent and owner of the recruiting firm Rachel Wixey & Associates, provided mock interviews with helpful guidance for the teens.

The career fair was coordinated in part with help from the Anthony Wayne Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce. It is a part of a yearlong focus on careers and networking – something that seniors missed the past two years because of COVID-19, Buckenmeyer said. 

Throughout this year, the school brought in speakers including an Ohio State University professor, a pastor, a supply chain manager, an electrical engineer, a financial planner, a physical therapist, a cardiologist, a warehouse manager, an emergency room professional and military representatives. 

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