Last Friday, students at YME participated in Career Day activities. Seniors focused on preparing for college and future employment, 10th and 11th graders spent the morning preparing for college admissions tests, 9th graders toured Minnesota West Community College, and 6th, 7th, and 8th graders worked together on STEM projects.

For the graduating class of 2018, the day was all about connecting seniors with individuals and resources to prepare them for college or their first full-time job. Starting at 8:15 a.m., the students broke out into different workshops, with each group tackling a different component of post-high school life. Workshop themes included how to prepare for interviews, mastering personal finance, volunteerism, and military opportunities.

Students spoke with individuals from business, academic, and military backgrounds during their 20-minute workshop sessions. After a short presentation, students asked questions to learn more about their options after graduating. While many students already have fixed plans for the future, many others are still making up their minds. The workshops were an important resource, therefore, for students to help guide them through these difficult steps.

After the morning workshop sessions, students boarded a bus and toured local employers in the public and private sectors. Stops included the Granite Falls Hospital, Yellow Medicine County, Citizens Bank, Fagen, Inc., Thrivent Financial, Granite Falls EDA, Marr Valve, and the Granite Falls Energy Ethanol plant. At each stop, employees were on hand to explain their jobs and answer questions from soon-to-be job seekers.

The 9th grade class used the Career Day morning to tour the Minnesota West Community College campus here in Granite Falls. During their tour, students learned about different educational opportunities available to them at Minn West and other post-secondary institutions. “It was so exciting to host the YME 9th grade students,” said Nicole Zemple, Minn West Enrollment Specialist. “Our instructors are so passionate about their programs and appreciate the opportunity to expose young people to our technical programs.”

During their visit, students focused on how a technical education might benefit them in the current job market. “It’s important to expose students to a variety of options to explore – technical education has a particular niche it fills in the job market for highly skilled occupations,” said Precision Machine Operator Ray Louwagie. Zemple agreed, explaining that “with 54% of our labor force consisting of trade jobs, it’s so great to work with YME to help expose students early on about how our technical programs match up to the high pay, high growth and high demand jobs that are available and need skilled workers.”

During their visit, students toured Minnesota West classrooms. Professors were on hand to demonstrate computers, robotics, and machinery to the interested youths. “The students were so engaged and I was so impressed with them,” said Rose Patzer, Bio Fuels Technology Instructor and Program Coordinator for Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence. “It’s so important to share career opportunities early on with students to get them thinking about opportunities beyond liberal arts curriculum.”

Not to be left out, the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students spent Career Day working on six different STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related projects. Between building mini parachutes and assembling their own fidget spinners, students learned important skills that YME thinks will be critical to their future success. “These activities not only allowed students to use their critical thinking skills to problem solve, but it gave them the chance to use their creativity to design performance models and create their own tie-dye T-shirt,” said middle school teacher Leanne Carmany.