Ottawa High School recently took part in its second “Day on the Job” for seniors. The program, organized by OHS, the Franklin County Development Council and Ottawa Communities in Schools, is geared to help our students understand what employers are seeking in new employees, what education or training it takes to perform certain jobs and to inform OHS seniors about what the Ottawa community can offer them with respect to their professional loves. It also provides Ottawa’s business sector the opportunity to meet and converse first-hand with the next-generation workforce in this area.

Our students’ interests determined their paths for the day. The morning was split between three different areas, which included presentations from business leaders from the private sector, the public sector and the medical profession. The private sector included conversations with Ryan Henningsen financial adviser; Tina Albers, Walmart Logistics distribution center; John Boyd, with Green, Finch & Covington Chartered; Sarah Gollier, The Pink Suitcase; Brady Keim, Keim Bakery; Shawn Turner, Turner’s Florist; Josh Walker, Loyd Builders; and Greg Colburn, Performance Electric; as well as a host of other business leaders. Our students were engaged in conversations with these community members about entrepreneurship, job skills and work ethic, as well as the growing opportunities for high-wage, high-skill and high-demand jobs here in Ottawa.

The day’s second session involved the public sector with volunteers from the City of Ottawa Public Works Department, Ottawa Police Department, Ottawa Fire Department, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Ottawa school district, Ottawa Recreation Commission, Franklin County administration, and city administration, along with presenters from many other local departments. During this portion, our students gained an understanding of the breadth of opportunities in the Ottawa area that could play host to their interests and the vast array of jobs that are incorporated in each of these departments.

A third session was at Ransom Memorial Hospital, covering the medical field. This group had the opportunity to tour the hospital and get an inside look at each of the different programs and what they do, including tours of the emergency room, operating room, obstetrics unit, laboratory, radiology and urgent care. During the visit, our students gained an understanding of the different areas — such as billing, payroll, insurance, etc. — as well as the different jobs, that have to be incorporated for the hospital to function.

Our lunch was graciously provided by American Eagle, which then followed with a tour of the company’s distribution facility. While half of the senior class did this, the other half was transported to Cargotec where they toured that facility. The purpose of these tours was to help our students understand the manufacturing and distribution operations here in Ottawa and, once again, the number of different jobs needed to make them operate properly. After the tour, Cargotec offered a question-and-answer session with all the major departments, including members from purchasing, technology, shipping, sales and others. American Eagle provided a similar opportunity with its management team, which included a discussion with their safety administrator.

Ottawa University followed the day’s visits with a reception in the student union and a closing speech from Derek Chappell.

The seniors’ Day on the Job 2013 was an incredible success. I would like to thank everyone involved who took time to ensure our students not only had a great day, but came away with a better understanding of the community and the opportunities afforded to them here in Ottawa. I would like to extend another thank you to Cassie Myers and the Day on the Job committee, which spent countless hours putting this program together for our students and for making this year’s event something they will always remember.

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at or call (785) 229-8020.