Guest Column: Business and industry are helping students

Published 9:06 am Friday, January 20, 2017

Guest Column by Jean Eaton

Parents, did you know that a Harvard study stated, “By 2018… The entire workforce — one-third of job openings will require a bachelor’s degree or higher, 57 percent will require technical skills (one to two years of college), and 10 percent will require no formal skills. Of the job openings that require formal training/college … 10 percent will require a master’s or doctorate, 20 percent will need a bachelor’s degree and 70 percent will require two years of college or less (diploma, degree or certificate).”

Jean Eaton

Jean Eaton

The Albert Lea Greater Education Project is working with the school district and business/industry in Albert Lea to help educate students on careers and career trends so that they will be aware of  opportunities available and to help them make the right choice for their future.

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Since fall 2016, business leaders have been speaking to the eighth-grade Pathways Career class taught by Mary Klinghagen. This semester had 37 speakers from the following businesses share their career path with students: Cedar Valley Services, Albert Lea police and fire departments, Freeborn County United Way, Blue Zones, Freeborn County Public Health and Social Services,  Innovance, Pro-Trucking, Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea, First Lutheran Church, Dave Klatt State Farm, Wells Fargo, Matt Levorson Productions, Celebrations, United Health Care, Mazda, Albert Lea Tribune, The Children’s Center, Vern Eide, Freeborn County Shopper, AmeriNational, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Innovative IT, Dr. Manny Steil and Jones, Haugh & Smith.

This quarter there are two scheduled Pathways Career classes taught by Connie Larson and Mary Klinghagen. Business speakers will fill the classroom every Tuesday through Friday each week with a total of 112 speakers from different industries providing information.

Last spring, we initiated a shadowing experience opportunity for Albert Lea 11th-graders. Four students took advantage of this program at that time with one finding a mentor and spending two full days at Mayo Clinic Health System with a specialist over Christmas break! This semester, we had 40 students from the 12th-grade classes shadow local business professionals. Students in Jessica Gregory’s economics class and students from Deb Munson’s diversified class took advantage of this experience. Students were matched with their career interest to a business professional in that field. The following businesses provided time to students: The Children’s Center, Advanced Family Dental, Sanderson Auto, South Central Pet Care, Expressions Salon, Adams & Winter CPA, Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, Jones, Haugh & Smith, Eaton Sport and Spine, Community Foot Clinic, Shell Rock River Watershed District, Johnson Heating and Air Conditioning, Dave Syverson Heavy Truck Body Shop, Innovance, Dinah’s Style, Albert Lea Select Foods, Albertson’s Safeway, Clayton Petersen, Albert Lea city attorney, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, District 241 School, St. John’s Lutheran Community, Pro-Manufacturing, Suidae Health and Production veterinarian and the Albert Lea Tribune.

Both students and businesses are benefiting from getting to know one another through shadowing experiences or connecting via mentor/mentee visits. Students are learning if the career is truly what they want to do and are excited about their future, or they are finding out that perhaps they are not suited to the career.

The Albert Lea Greater Education Project has added an internship component to our program with Waldorf University being our pilot college.  Seniors at Waldorf University are required to have an internship in their field of study. We can now offer their students an internship, shadowing experience and an opportunity to have a mentor, just like we do for our high school seniors. Jerry Gabrielatos, assistant city manager/advisory member,  has initiated this effort with Waldorf and continues to look for other colleges to work with. If you are looking for an intern, Waldorf’s Career & Internship Fair is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. March 22 in Forest City.

The Albert Lea Greater Education Project is part of the Albert Lea Education Foundation. If you have questions, interest in our project or want to know more about endowed scholarships, please contact Jean Eaton, project director, at 507-383-7880.