AS A HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE counselor, Emily Bilitz advises students who are beginning to look at careers but may not necessarily have a realistic picture of their desired field.
To flesh out that picture, Bilitz, who also teaches and serves as registration coordinator at Fond du Lac’s Winnebago Lutheran Academy, says she encourages her juniors and seniors to attend job fairs and participate in job shadow experiences.
Events such as Faith Technologies’ job shadow days, which the company holds several times each school year, provide an ideal opportunity for acquainting high school kids to careers in the trades and construction, Bilitz says. She brought five students to an event the electrical planning and engineering company held in November.
“Especially as seniors, they come up with, ‘I’m going to be an engineering major,’ and they have no idea what that actually means,” Bilitz says. “I feel like it’s really important for them to actually get to a business, see what they have to offer, and if you are going to major in this … what kind of job does that actually mean?”
The job shadow days are designed to show students what those majors and careers entail. Kelly Chartré, director of marketing for Faith Technologies, says the company aims to expose students to skilled trades careers, while at the same time busting manufacturing job stereotypes and highlighting Faith’s clean, safe work environment.
The full-day experiences include tours, industry speakers, networking opportunities and hands-on activities that help introduce manufacturing careers.
Calry Paveglio, a student at Winnebago Lutheran Academy, came to the event hoping to learn more about engineering careers. She’d like to study biomedical engineering at Milwaukee School of Engineering.
“I took away that there are a lot of options out there with different jobs, and one company can offer many different jobs to their employees,” Paveglio says.
Kristie Wagner works for Faith as an executive assistant project coordinator and encouraged her son, Damien, a student at Waukesha South High School, to attend. Wagner wants to show her son the diversity of options.
“I hope being that he’s a sophomore in high school, it will help him and guide him into maybe going into the trades because I, as a parent, am kind of pushing him to do that a little bit,” she says.
Around one in 10 students who participate in one of the exploration days end up joining Faith as a helper, a paid position that can lead to apprenticeship opportunities, Chartré says. That starting point can lead to advancement, she says, noting that Faith President and CEO Mike Jansen began his career with the company as an apprentice.
Chartré says the company is looking to add another 350 to 400 people and prefers to hire people at an early age and take them up the career ladder.
“It’s not just a job, it’s a career path,” she says.