Manheim Central High School hosts career conference

By on March 19, 2019

Manheim Central High School learners had the opportunity to explore a variety of career options during the school’s first Career Conference, Thursday, March 7. Over 900 learners ranging from freshmen to seniors participated in the day-long event.

“Kids today are very concerned about what they’re going to do when they leave high school. They want to find what best fits them,” explained Keisha McCauley, the high school’s coordinator of post-secondary transitions, “A few years ago, people were pushing the kids to go to college, but now people are realizing that college is not for everyone.”

She said there are a number of seniors who are still undecided what path to take after graduating. “I’m hoping this event helps provide some direction for them. We hope to make the Career Conference an annual event, but since this was the first one, we opened it up to the entire school,” she said.

Representatives from over two dozen business partners shared information about their company, their specific job and the path they’ve taken to that position. Michaela McDonald, sales and marketing coordinator at The Booking House, a Manheim event’s venue, is a Manheim Central alum. “When I was in high school, I thought hospitality was something far away. I want the kids to realize there are lots of opportunities in the hospitality industry right here in Lancaster County,” she said, “When we say hospitality industry, people often only think about hotels, but there’s so much more including catering, photography and event planning.”

Traves Gift of Warfel Construction (left) gives Manheim Central High School learners Bryan Kerdeman and Matthew Achenbach a tip about constructing a wall. Photo by Rochelle Shenk.

Michelle Gruber, sales coordinator at Rettew’s Catering, said there are also a number of career opportunities in the catering industry. “When people think about catering the first thing they think about is food-yes, there are chefs but there’s so much more such as event planning, accounting, sales and marketing, delivery driver,” she said. Both she and McDonald focused their discussion with the high school learners on the wedding industry.

Performing songwriter Steven Courtney also shared information about his career during the vent. “Kids and family music wasn’t something I was pursuing, it just happened. I wrote songs for my kids and family members, and someone heard about it and suggested I perform for audiences,” he explained.

He said he was glad to share his experiences with the Manheim Central learners. “When I was in high school, it would have been great to be exposed to someone who is involved in the real life of being an entertainer,” Courtney said. The business partners (presenters) also shared a hands-on activity that simulates their duties. “Learners feel connected to careers when they can visualize themselves actively doing it,” McCauley said.

Learners who elected to attend Warfel Construction’s presentation not only learned about careers in the construction industry, but also had a chance to help build a wall.

“Warfel is a construction management firm, working closely with architects and engineers to bring projects to fruition,” says Amber Schnader of Warfel Construction. “We also have our own skilled labor force of carpenters working on our jobsites.  The carpentry apprenticeship program is a great career opportunity to learn a skilled trade.”

A career with a manufacturing company was discussed during Arconic’s presentation.

“In manufacturing, we’re seeing a lot of retirements-the Baby Boomers are now retiring,” said Jeffry Johnston, “We do career events such as this one, to let students know about the opportunities we offer.”

Craig Brubaker, a high voltage specialist at Arconic, is graduated from the electrical technology program at Lancaster’s Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. “Two-your colleges and technical schools are a great option for a career,” he said explaining that just after graduating from Stevens, he worked for another local manufacturer before joining Arconic.

Arconic’s hands-on activity was a simulated manufacturing project. The learners were divided into small groups, and each group was tasked with creating paper airplanes for a client. As part of the production process the airplanes were tested with the goal of landing in a target zone. “As the group manufactures and tests their airplanes, they refine the design, and the production team becomes more efficient,” Johnston explained.

Some of the other career presenters included CPRS Physical Therapy, Fenner Precision Polymers, Lancaster Barnstormers, Tait Towers Listrak, Manheim BIC Church, Pleasant View Retirement Community, Ruhl Insurance and the armed services (US Air National Guard, US Marines, and the US Navy. Learners looking for a career in the arts could take sessions on Developing a Professional Art Portfolio and its accompanying art portfolio work session.

McCauley said she anticipates having the Career Conference as an ongoing event.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at 

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