Some students graduate high school with definite plans to attend college, while other graduates have other plans for their post-high school life — whether those plans are heading into the workforce, taking a year off from school or balancing work and school simultaneously. To fill the needs for these students, Owensboro High School held its first annual inaugural job fair on Friday.
The job fair at OHS focused on assisting students with a variety of possible career options after high school graduation. Faculty and staff members reached out to 15 different companies, giving students the opportunity to talk to local employers about their future. Many companies even provided job applications for students who attended.
Companies who set up shop at the fair were AK Steel, Aleris, Alorica, Daramic, Ernie Davis Plumbing and HVAC, Kroger, Mizkan Americas, Owensboro Health, Ross Medical, Sun Windows, TTMA, Tyson Foods, US Bank, Dairy Queen and Envision Contractors.
“I think it’s wonderful because some people are just not made for college,” said Envision Human Relations Specialist Robin Phillips. “This is the perfect opportunity for them. We tell them, ‘It’s a career.’ You can start as a laborer and move your way up to superintendent.”
Chad Grubb, Project Engineer at Envision, said there’s the potential for more money in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, and that it’s important for students to have knowledge about those options.
“You know, I was looking yesterday at one-year tuition at WKU, and it’s between $15,000 and $18,000,” Grubb said. “If I was to do it all over again, I don’t think I’d go to college, and I’m an engineer.”
OHS senior Alexis Westerfield said she will be attending Kentucky Wesleyan College on a soccer scholarship, but she attended the job fair because she plans to work while in school.
“I plan to go to school for psychology and work with kids — what goes through their minds and how they learn,” Westerfield said. “I’ll try to do both [work and go to school] so I can be on top of my game. I want to challenge myself.”
Gabriella Clark, also a senior at OHS, attended Friday’s job fair to learn about the different options she may have post-graduation. Clark has hopes of becoming a full-time artist after high school.
“I really want to do something with art because I design logos and stuff like that — tattoos and everything,” Clark said. “I’m not really not thinking about college, but I’m not sure about going into the workforce either. I just want to be able to get out there and do some art.”
Clark designed the cover and pamphlet for the OPS Fine Arts Festival this year and, innate talent aside, Clark sees the importance in making connections at events like the job fair.
“I think being able to talk to companies like this is beneficial because first impressions don’t always make an impression. Even if you go to apply, [having talked to these employers] can help you because they can put in a good word for you. I think that’s really important,” Clark said.
Westerfield and Clark both said they’re ready to graduate, and that they look forward to their futures after graduating.
“I’m just ready to go and, like, make money, live on my own, have extra responsibilities,” Westerfield said.
Grubb said students who forgo college to find a career path through the workforce aren’t making a bad decision. In fact, Grubb believes the options are endless for those who take that route.
“We need more operators, plumbers, HVAC technicians,” Grubb said. “Those guys can charge whatever they want, so what would you rather do? Would you rather go to school for four years, go work at a job five days a week and make…down here, or go straight out and get an apprenticeship and maybe open your own business down the road?”