Heritage, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold high school seniors are taking advantage of the work-based learning credits offered in Catoosa County. By holding a job while in school, these students are actually gaining school credit and mastering the professional skills they will soon need in the workplace.
Graduation is only three months away. In order to encourage student success even more after they gain a high school diploma, a special VIP (Valuable Information from Professionals) event was held Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Colonnade on Battlefield Parkway.
There were a total of five stations at The Colonnade to help students gain professional information. Marissa Brower, communications specialist for Catoosa County Public Schools, described the information being given as “soft skills.”
“Soft skills are personal attributes and intrapersonal skills that enhance your ability to be successful on a job,” said Brower. “And these skills are very important to employers. The top characteristics listed for new hires were all soft skills, including the ability to communicate, a strong work ethic, initiative, interpersonal skills and teamwork.”
These basic skills are learned abilities that are valuable in a professional setting. Brower quoted the U.S. Department of Labor website saying, “Soft skills pay the bills.” In 2012, Brower worked with teachers and leaders in the community to write a work-ready grant. The grant was intended to provide opportunities to seniors be successful when they graduate, she said. The VIP event was funded with the grant and from donations from local businesses.
The individual stations included dressing for success with Christie Kline from Erlanger at Hutcheson; resumes and interview skills with Lee Anderson from Roadtec; social media in the workplace with Don Foley from Georgia Northwestern Technical College; managing income and credit with Sarah Oster from Partnership for Families, Children and Adults; and how to make the career you want work for you with Randy Smith. Lastly, all the students rejoined in the banquet room where they took part in an etiquette class during lunch led by Suzanne Chovanec.
Smith, talking about making a career work, emphasized to the seniors that there will be difficult decisions to make in life and in the end you have to find a career that truly makes a person happy.
“Who do you want to be?” was the question Smith posed to the students. It was about asking meaningful questions to find the right direction for life. In the other stations, Oster stressed the importance of setting credit goals and tracking spending, while Anderson warned about showing age on a resume. Several of the visiting professionals told seniors to be careful about what is put on Facebook. The public domain is often used to find background information on job applicants.
The VIP event was held for working seniors, but a school-wide college and career day is being held Feb. 15 at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School to prepare seniors even more. Bo Campbell, work-based learning coordinator at Lakeview, was excited about the opportunities offered to the modern-day seniors. Preparation for a career is necessary for a successful future, he said.