As students advance through high school, the thought of what to do after graduation can be daunting. Liz Kluver, Career Coordinator for Spencer Community Schools is working to bridge the gap and expose students to opportunities available through Career Experiences. “The goal of Career Experiences is to provide a snapshot into different career opportunities available. They allow students to learn first-hand about different career options to assist in their post-graduation decisions,” said Kluver.
Spencer Community Schools is on the cutting edge as one of, if not the only school in the state to have a Career Experience graduation requirement. Kluver said she is unaware of any other school in Iowa that has this requirement and explained it by saying, “Students in grades 10-12 are required to attend at least two Career Experiences each year. The students then write a short reflection to receive credit.” Kluver schedules roughly 35 Career Experiences throughout the school year, and is always working with students to learn of additional interests. Tweaks are made accordingly to align with current demands. Student Career Experience favorites include Medical, Law Enforcement and Small and Large Veterinarian. Often times students find a passion through an experience and can go on to complete an individual job shadow. Kluver said that there are 55 on average each year.
To coincide with National Manufacturing Day on October 7, a Career Experience was scheduled at Veridian Limited, a manufacturer of fire protective gear. Joined by Paul Berge from the ISU College of Engineering, students learned about the various aspects of manufacturing. Sandie Smith, Vice President of Operations, told the students about the types of jobs and that employment is available starting at age 18. Veridian employees are engaged and active due to the nature of their work. From operating high tech computer software to utilizing highly technological computer-driven cutting and sewing machines, or inspecting the final product to preparing it for shipping, there are several job types available. Veridian also runs only one Monday through Friday shift, from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm, making it a great choice for employment after high school.
As students enter their senior year, Kluver personalizes Extended Career Experiences for anyone interested. Extended Career Experiences differ from Career Experiences because they last throughout an entire semester and involve more in-depth, on the job training. Prior to this school year, Kluver initiated Extended Career Experiences in the areas of Health Sciences, Manufacturing, Construction and Entrepreneurship. This year, based on student interest, Kluver added Music, Theatre and Hospitality Extended Career Experiences. Kluver is open to adding additional areas, and said, “Extended Career Experiences create active learning rather than just shadowing. It is an actual hands-on experience.” Allowing high school seniors to engage in an area of interest has many benefits, and students at Spencer High School are responding well to the opportunity with increased student participation.