High school seniors network, interview with area businesses

GREENVILLE – High school seniors got a glimpse of the local job market on Tuesday as part of the Darke County Senior Interview & Networking Event, sponsored by the county’s economic development office.

The event, held at Greenville High School drew graduating seniors from around the county.

“This event allows them to connect with what our companies have to offer,” said Mike Stegall, county commissioner, who along with commissioner Matt Aultman volunteered in helping guide students through the networking process.

According to Tamala Marley, workforce specialist for Darke County Economic Development, students were given the opportunity to “interview” and gather information through networking, then participated in a three-minute interview with each company.

“The students got questions ahead of time, if they wanted to be prepared,” Marley explained.

Thirteen businesses and organizations were on hand to share information with students about summer job opportunities as well as internships and future careers within Darke County.

These included Edison Community College, Wayne HealthCare, Brethren Retirement Center, Midmark, GTI, Whirlpool, FRAM, Kroger, Fort Recovery Industries, Village Green, King’s Command, and Ramco.

Officers also were on hand to speak with students seeking information on law enforcement careers.

This was the third year for the career event, Marley said.

“The event was started to provide opportunities for our students and local employers to work together to find what options they have for working and living in Darke County,” Marley said.

Dawn Baker, production manager with King’s Command said she had a “lot of interest” from students wanting to know more about the Versailles food processing plant.

“We had one student who was studying agriculture. This fits right in, since we’re a USDA-inspected plant and follow all their guidelines.”

Midmark’s Emily Niekamp, who works as a human resource generalist, shared information about the company’s summer jobs and internship opportunities, as well as other careers available at the medical equipment plant, also in Versailles.

“They’re asking a lot of questions about opportunities available for summer,” she said of students.

Niekamp took the time to explain all career possibilities within a manufacturing company, not just assembly line jobs.

Niekamp told one senior who said she was going to be studying nursing in college “you’ll see all our equipment” in medical offices.

“We have 1,700 team members, with 900 in Versailles,” and provides medical equipment to 90 percent of the world, she noted.

Three seniors from Ansonia took time to network together during Tuesday’s career event.

Each said they were glad they took the opportunity to attend the career event.

“I like talking to everyone and asking questions,” Bailey Stammen said.

Lexi Shinn said she was happy to “learn of all the things I can do with a business degree” while Cierra Longenecker was enjoying “learning about all the different places” Darke County has to offer.

After the networking and interviewing activities, each group of students were invited to hear about the Darke County Economic Development’s HometownOpportunities.com job placement website and were assisted with registering their email with the site online.

This is the first year, said Economic Development Director Mike Bowers, that students actually were walked through the process with the website, as well as downloading an app on their phones. During the two previous years, students were given the information to register on their own time.

“This is a concerted effort between Darke, Shelby Auglaize and Mercer counties,” Bowers explained to students. “It’s a great tool for companies in the four-county region to look at you.”

Greenville Mayor Steve Willman also took a few minutes to speak with students. “What a great opportunity you guys have here. This is a cool deal. You’ve got a chance to talk with people and get familiar with how the process is. There are jobs out there. Everybody here wants you to succeed.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Emily Niekamp, HR generalist with Midmark, speaks with Ansonia seniors, left to right, Lexi Shinn, Cierra Longenecker and Bailey Stammen during the Darke County Senior Interview & Networking Event, held Tuesday at Greenville High School. (Susan Hartley photo)

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