Transition Tuesdays bring employers into the high school to meet future workforce
Wayne County High School students don’t have to leave the school building to find a job these days. That is because of a new program launched by Community Work Transition Program Employment Specialist Missy Jones called Transition Tuesdays.
The meet and greets are held during the second and fourth Tuesday of the month in the school cafeteria from 11:05 to 1:15 p.m. It is a little more focused than a job fair and hopefully more effective. The idea is for employers to set up a booth to be more accessible to any high school student who walks by them to eat in the lunchroom. The employers bring pamphlets about their businesses, applications to recruit future employees and are available to answer questions and get to know students.
“Every student that enters the cafeteria has the opportunity to talk with that particular employer,” said Jones. “Students can find a place to volunteer, find a practicum or internship or placement. Or, for a student that might be planning to co-op, they might find long term employment.”
Representatives from Conley Bottom Resort Boat Dock set up their booth just inside the cafeteria on Tuesday, March 22. Full time employees Zack Barnes and Matthew Bertram were joined by part time employees WCHS Senior Kennedy Keith and WCHS Administrative Assistant Randy Foster. They all had positive stories and experiences working at the local dock. They said you learn how to do a variety of tasks.
They described all kinds of work duties ranging from washing houseboats to pumping gas to serving ice cream and pizza. For students looking for full-time work on a permanent basis – a lot of skills taught at the adjoining Area Technology Center like carpentry, welding, electric, and operating heavy machinery could easily land graduates a career at the dock. Zack Barnes said he has been working at the dock for eight years and has done all those things.
Foster said he has worked at the dock in the summers since 1977, when he was in college. He works in the store during the summer season which mainly runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
During the school year he works at the high school, where he is relied on to do everything from making sure the copy machine is running smoothly, to filling in for a teacher to IT assistance at the high school. He also supervises the lunchroom crowd, so manned with his microphone, he talked up the Transition Tuesday visitors’ booth to the students. Several students stopped by the booth and were interested in putting in applications.
Foster laughed, “I’ve pumped a lot of gas and bagged a lot of ice over the years.”
“It’s a lifestyle,” remarked Senior Kennedy Keith. She is one of seven or eight Wayne County High School students that already are currently employed by the local dock.
“We have some employees that started when they were 17 or 18-years-old and years later they are still with us,” said Barnes.
Matthew Bertram, who just returned home from a boat show in Cleveland, Ohio, promoting the local dock noted, “We employee more than 20-year-around employees and 60-80 employees in the summer.”
Conley Bottom Resort is one of the biggest docks on Lake Cumberland with over a 1,000 slips; plus a fleet of watercraft rentals including 20 pontoons and 10 houseboats. Lodging, camping and moorage are available. A newly built restaurant should open this summer, as well. Finishing touches are currently being made to the floating facility.
The students have also had the opportunity to meet employers from Patriot Industries, COBB, and Trifecta Houseboat manufacturer on Transition Tuesdays. They will have a chance to speak with representatives from Beaver Creek Marina on April 12 and TTAI will be available to share information on April 26. “In the event that some places mostly manufacturers, can only hire individuals 18 and older, it still lets them know what is out there once they have graduated,” noted Jones.
Wayne County High School students are fortunate to be able to attend classes in the new ATC building that is just a few steps away from the high school. Students are provided with skilled vocational training in a variety of fields, as well as coop or internships. Their certifications and introductions to trades are very timely since there is a national shift away from four-year degree programs after high school.
So coupled with the ATC’s efforts, programs like the Transition Tuesdays are a great way for students to get a leg-up on employment. Jones is working to confirm some more dates for businesses to visit and she hopes to fill up all the Transition Tuesday dates for next fall when in-person school is back in session.
“I feel like this is a win, win situation for our students and the employers in our local and surrounding area,” said Jones. “Mr. Thompson has been very supportive of our Transition Tuesday here at Wayne County High School, and as always Mrs. Audra Branscum (Youth Services Center) has been on board from the start.”
Conley Bottom Resort was a recent employer that visited students in the cafeteria.(l-r:) School personnel Randy Foster, Missy Jones, Conley Bottom representatives Zack Barnes and Matthew Bertram and Senior Kennedy Keith were happy to share information with students about the beautiful resort.
Matthew Bertram pointed out some information on their application form to Kennedy Keith.
Sophomore Judson Hicks and Bradley Hardwick talked to Zack Barnes about openings.
Resort Employee Zack Barnes talked with Devin Crabtree
WCHS student Tiffany Creager stopped by the booth.
Randy Foster encouraging students to stop by the Transition Tuesday booth during their lunch break.