Seniors at Ottawa High School will be getting a taste of the real world, Jeff Seymour said.

OHS students are expected to participate Thursday in the Day on the Job event, organized by the Franklin County Development Council, Seymour, director of the council, said. The event is in its second year, and Seymour said he hopes to soon be able to include other seniors from throughout Franklin County.

“It’s something we started last year,” he said. “We use this day to give kids exposure to jobs and occupations in Ottawa and Franklin County.”

Seniors choose from three modules they’d like to attend based on a survey they took last year as juniors and which top three career choices they had been thinking about, Seymour said.

“There’s health care, private sector, which is entrepreneurship, technical trades and a public sector, which is careers the City of Ottawa would have or Franklin County. From lineman to internet technology, to a city manager, county administrator and EMS,” he said. “In the afternoon we take them out to American Eagle [Outfitters Inc.] where they have lunch and then they tour [American Eagle Outfitters Inc.] and Cargotec. After all that’s done, we take them to Ottawa University and they have a reception.”

The Day on the Job event is based on three core values, according to a press release. The event hopes to expose students to real, exciting career opportunities in Ottawa and Franklin County. Show students from “Point A” to “Point B” to achieving these careers, and show students that the Franklin County region cares about their success, according to the release.

“We try to introduce them to an educational opportunity to get them from Point A to Point B,” he said. “We want them to get some sort of credentials and education to do what they’re doing and an exposure to those paths through Neosho County Community College or OU.”

College and career readiness

Organizers hope the event helps bridge the gap between businesses and the community, Seymour said. That’s one reason Communities in Schools teamed up with the Franklin County Development Council to put Day on the Job together, Cassie Myers said. Myers is the Communities in Schools site coordinator at Ottawa High School.

“Communities in Schools is a drop-out prevention program,” Myers said. “It’s the No. 1 in the U.S., and we serve over 1.2 million public school students.”

After conducting a site needs assessment, Myers said, staff and teachers thought one of the biggest needs at the high school was college and career readiness.

“The career part is something I’ve tried to implement here, and that’s where the [Day on the Job event] has fallen into place,” she said. “I just thought how great it would be to give the kids a chance to go out into the community and see the community cares about them and to build internships and job shadowing opportunities and that’s where that marketable skill upon graduation comes into play.”

Part of the five basics the Communities in Schools program teaches is to learn a marketable skill upon graduating, Myers said. The Day on the Job event allows students to gain a better understanding of what that skill might be, she added.

“That’s where Communities in Schools got involved,” she said. “We want to get [students] thinking how to get [to their career], what it is they want to do, is it something they really want to do. They may think they want to be a nurse and they can experience the medical side and they might change their mind or it might get them more excited and say, ‘You know what, that’s what I want to do,’ and take the steps to go to college or nursing school.”

The message that many students might think they know what they want to do after high school, but change their mind upon speaking to a professional in that field is emphasized throughout the day, Myers said.

“A prime example would be of people not knowing that positions are available here in Ottawa,” she said. “Then to give them an opportunity to talk to someone who’s in that field and give them an idea of what it will entail to go through school... That message is reiterated over and over. It’s important for them to hear because they may get into college and change their mind and come back here in Ottawa, and that’s OK.”

Eye-opening experience

The development council helps organize the event because its leaders want students to know and be aware of the jobs available in Ottawa and Franklin County, Seymour said.

“What [students] came away with last year was it opened a lot of eyes that there are good job opportunities available in Franklin County,” he said. “A lot of people know about American Eagle and Wal-Mart Distribution Center or Cargotec, but I don’t think they understand the breadth of opportunities available at those places.”

The Day on the Job event isn’t just about showing students the jobs available here in Franklin County, Myers said, it also helps students build connections.

“Last year, the event did create internships and job shadowing opportunities,” Myers said.

“I think we provide that [students] can have somebody to make a connection with and ask questions of ‘Do I really want to do this?’” Seymour said.