Students explore future manufacturing careers
Students interested in manufacturing careers, from dying yarn to building trucks, met face-to-face with potential employers Friday. About 400 students in Gaston County Schools attended the third annual Career Expo: Discover the New Face of Manufacturing at Gaston College. Students met with representatives from 14 local manufacturers to learn about job opportunities and the skills required to attain them.
It was an eye-opening experience for East Gaston High junior Justin Bushnell, who takes an auto repair class at school. "I’m hands on, so I like to do stuff with my hands," he said. "There are a lot more opportunities in North Carolina than I thought."
Forestview High senior Araia Royalty is taking high school classes in entrepreneurship and finance. She hopes to one day enter the manufacturing industry in the finance department. She was elated to learn that she won’t have to travel far from home to find that career. "I’ve learned a lot about how some of the smaller companies are starting to build, and I discovered opportunity that I didn’t know was here," she said. "I never realized how they actually come to college and care about the new kids coming out of school and want new employees." Daimler Trucks’ Mount Holly Freightliner plant hired about 600 new employees in the past six months, according to Jim Giesey, the plant’s lean implementation supervisor. He spoke with students about those opportunities and his own career path. Giesey began his career about 20 years ago with an entry-level job as a parts hanger. He worked his way up the company ladder to welder to team leader to union representative. It was in that role where he says he learned how to earn people’s trust by showing respect. It’s a quality he urged students to show when meeting with potential employers. "Showing employers respect and treating them with respect is also how you get a job," he said. "Once you make that face-to-face interaction with somebody, that’s your opportunity to say ‘I’m willing to learn, to listen to what you have to offer, and I want to contribute.’" Students learned about the Apprenticeship 321 Program at Gaston College. The program helps high school graduates receive job-specific training through an apprenticeship at a local manufacturer and classes at the college. About nine Gaston-area businesses are currently participating.
Students also broke out into several sessions to learn how to sell themselves to employers and how to enter a pathway that will lead them to their desired career. Royalty says her biggest takeaway is to be polite and take an interest in what employers have to say.
They want you, they want education, they want people who actually care," she said. "It’s good to be that person." Six students who attended the career expo will be selected later to receive a $1,000 scholarship to enter a manufacturing career pathway at Gaston College.
Posted Oct. 2, 2022 at 6:59 PM