NEW PARIS — In the past, National Trail Local School District has always opened its doors to all Preble County seniors for a Career and College Fair, however, this year the school focused on careers only.
National Trail’s Career Fair was held on Friday, Nov. 15 and featured 56 businesses, so interested students could ask questions and learn more about career paths they are interested in.
Like the Career and College Fair, all National Trail students seventh through 12th grade were invited to attend. All seniors from every Preble County school district were also in attendance.
Every student who attended the Career Fair was asked to complete a “career passport,” which was a card with six different career fields students had to interact with. This forced students to visit booths covering more than just their intended fields.
According to high school guidance counselor Brittany Egbert, the school decided to focus on just careers this year to highlight options in Preble County and give students a better understanding of what level of education is required to accomplish their goals — even if that means the students go straight into the workforce. They want to encourage students to take whatever path they feel is most appropriate for them moving forward after high school and prove that students can find well paying jobs, without ever having to go to college.
“This is the first year in a while it has only been the career fair, separated from the college fair. We had bigger displays for the businesses and a little more activity going on withe the kids. We will do a college fair at the beginning of March — it is completely separate now,” Egbert said. “For a lot of kids, college isn’t the only option any more. A lot of kids are going straight into the workforce.
“Even if you want to go to college, the career fair is nice having options of businesses that need a degree from you. Specifically, we wanted to show [students] whats around in Preble County. Our goal is to keep people here, because most people leave the county to find a job.”
Principal Mike Eyler added, “My focus, having grown up in Preble County through the schools here in Preble County, we see students thinking college is the only way to be successful. I have so many friends who have gone into manufacturing, health care, agriculture, things like that, and I know that’s not true. My biggest thing is, National Trail wants to create successful students.
“We want people who are going to go out there, find a career, and do what it takes to get to that. If that is a four year degree, awesome, we will get you there. If it is a technical certificate, we will get you there. The point of separating the career fair from college fair, is a lot of students aren’t thinking of what they want to do next or they don’t have realistic expectations for what they need to do [to accomplish their goal].
“We can equip them the knowledge of what goes into certain careers and they can find out different professions in each field and education required. Again, we have a lot to offer in Preble County that our students don’t necessarily see.”
The National Trail Miami Valley Career Technology Center (MVCTC) FFA Chapter played a huge role in planning and organizing the event this year. National Trail Ag Business classes were responsible for inviting the businesses who attended on Friday. They chose businesses students were interested in and wanted to learn more about. The FFA Chapter members also greeted guests and helped set up for the day.
FFA advisors gave their students tips for how to address presenters and what questions to ask.
“We wanted our students to see what careers there are available, so they can be more successful after high school and start preparing earlier,” FFA Advisor Carmen Kennel said.
When choosing what businesses were present, they tried to highlight graduates of National Trail, so students could see individuals who were in their exact place in the past and see what they had accomplished from a similar starting point.
“We wanted the students to see how valuable their education is that they’re receiving in Preble County,” Kennel said.
According to students, this Career Fair gave them the opportunity to explore the career fields they were interested in and learn about different opportunities at various companies.
Abbey Rodefer, a senior at National Trail and president of the NT FFA Chapter, thought it was important to show students options other than college, since it is expensive and not everyone has the means to pay for the investment.
“I thought it was nice a lot of the careers were in Preble County, because, living in Preble County, you don’t necessarily pay attention to all the options that are here,” she said. “[The career fair] helped us make connections with people. Networking is a big part of life now, especially when you’re about to graduate. Making connections with people is very important.”
Mark Armstrong, a senior at National Trail and FFA Sentinel, said he stopped at most of the booths, even if they covered a career field he wasn’t interested in.
“It’s mostly, go and figure out what each booth does, because, you never know! A lot of these companies, you need to go and start looking at them,” he said. “The Career Fair was diverse! This time around, instead of having a couple selective careers, they had a whole bunch of them — you had a choice.”
Kacy Osswald, a junior at National Trail, looked at most of the different booths, but focused on education and agriculture. She learned there are opportunities available for every student — no matter what they’re interested in or what path they choose.
“There are many career options for every potential student that wants to go out there after they graduate – whether they want to go to college or straight in the workforce. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have a career in your mind and you want to do it,” she said.
Mykenzie Smith, a sophomore at National Trail, used the Career Fair to see how many opportunities are available close to home.
“When you think of some of the things you want to do, you have to go far away from them. For agriculture, I thought there were things I had to go away for, but I can stay here. I talked to the Ohio Department of Ag and they told me what colleges you can go to and how there are different stages to do that. You can stay here for it, so you don’t have to leave,” she said.
Ultimately, the Career Fair is held to help students understand what opportunities are available for them and what is required of them to get to that point in their lives.
“I think it is important for the students to see what opportunities are available,” Kennel said. “We tried to showcase careers that are readily available to students or careers that students have interest in.”
Eyler added, “The goal for [the Career Fair] was to show students that there are choices out there. Ultimately, I think, National Trail’s goal is to continue to expand this and add to the diversity of the jobs that are offered. At this time, it is not enough for schools to develop college students – it is to develop strong workers. People who are going to get the training they need to do the career they want to do.”
“We are glad to open our facility to such a worthwhile event not only for our National Trail Students but the other seniors in Preble County as well,” Superintendent Bob Fischer said.
“The Career Fair has the potential to be such a worthwhile event for the students of Preble County. As this event grows, it will showcase the first class opportunities and businesses we have in Preble County and will show students no matter what career path they may choose, they can stay home and have a successful future. In addition, this program is just one of several activities that we continue to add to the plate for our schools to use as a hands-on learning experience.
“The National Trail Career Fair was a team effort in making sure that this event was a huge success. A special thanks should be given to NTHS Counselor Brittany Egbert, NT MVCTC FFA Advisors Eric and Carmen Kennel, the NT MVCTC FFA students, NTHS Principal Michael Eyler, NTHS Administrative Assistant Sindi Hoke, and Edison Community College,” Fischer added.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH