WESTFIELD TWP. — More than 100 seniors participated in mock job interviews and had the opportunity to speak with employers and representatives from 17 colleges during Cloverleaf High School’s first Explore Your Future event Wednesday.
“We want them to know that there are choices and the most important part is just having a plan,” said Cloverleaf counselor Josh Vastag.
Vastag staged the daylong program as part of the process for obtaining his school administrator license. Still, the resulting event allowed students to take a tangible step toward firming up postgraduation plans.
“One of the things we had to do is recognize a need and find a solution for it,” he said. “We know our kids all have a plan or say they have a plan, but we wanted to give them the best opportunity to leave with a definitive plan.”
The district partnered with the Medina County Economic Development Corporation to bring in about 40 businesses and their representatives to speak to the seniors in the morning, and 17 colleges to do the same in the afternoon.
Economic development corporation Executive Director Bethany Dentler said the organization includes an education committee and serves as the business advisory council for five Medina County school districts as well as the Educational Service Center of Medina County.
“I think what Cloverleaf is doing is really amazing, sort of paying equal attention to the number of options that you have after graduation,” Dentler said. “It is great to see.”
Dentler said she certainly does not want to discredit education, but she also wants students to understand what alternatives are available to them if they decide college is not the right choice for them.
“Higher education and our education department is very important and we don’t want to discount that at all, but we talk to 200 businesses a year and so many of them are saying you don’t necessarily need a college degree to get a start (with them).”
Senior Grace Schmidt said the day helped her learn about job opportunities that can assist in financing her college tuition.
“I want to go to college and a lot of people have said they have opportunities where they will pay for my college if I work there,” she said.
Schmidt said she is interested in working in the computer science or computer engineering fields.
In addition to interacting with area employers, students could sign up for a 10-minute mock interview and receive feedback with categories that included professional dress, resume and speaking ability.
MCEDC economic developer Kathy Breitenbucher said working professionals with a variety of backgrounds volunteered to conduct the student interviews.
“We have people from all different types of companies, we have educators, we have manufacturers, we have service providers, we have the whole gamut,” Breitenbucher said.
Vastag said the district is looking to provide the opportunity to its seniors in the future and will tweak and refine it to make sure it continues to be a relevant and beneficial experience.
“We want them to know before, regardless of what they are stepping into, so that they have a realistic expectation of what the world is like after high school,” he said.