Local students, families and businesses in the Northwoods gathered at Rhinelander High School Monday, Jan 7, to allow students and their parents the opportunity to see the kinds of careers and industries available in their own community, as well as the departments within the high school that help pave the way for career possibilities.
From 5 to 7 p.m., students and family members had the chance to speak with representatives from 17 different businesses about career opportunities and the education necessary for such positions. Representatives from a diverse group of industries were present, which included Ripco Credit Union, Wisconsin Public Service, Hypro, Walmart, WXPR, Nicolet College and many more. This is the second year for many of the businesses that participated in the event, and all are hopeful that its success has continued to grow.
“This event is really beneficial for incoming freshmen, as they’re able to see the variety of departments within the high school and learn about career paths that are available depending on the route they take throughout their four years here,” said School District Community Education Coordinator Kim Swisher.
With more than 120 students and families in attendance for this year’s event, participants were able to identify the various business sectors in the Northwoods and speak with representatives first-hand about how their education can directly affect the type of careers they’re able to obtain prior to high school or college graduation.
“Students and their parents are able to get a real-world experience about the different areas within our community,” said Teri Phalin, pre-K 16 coordinator and career coach for Nicolet College. “This is an opportunity that most students haven’t previously experienced and it really provides an insight into just what our local area offers.” Phalin also noted that the event offers an excellent perspective of what is available in the community, as businesses and industries in the local area are continuously growing. “We’re seeing an increase in the manufacturing and engineering industry, and we’re noticing that more students at Nicolet are taking interest in the sector of public health, which helps stimulate the local health field as these students graduate with degrees that they can utilize here in the community.” Having knowledge about the increasing areas of interest at Nicolet also helps representatives like Phalin gauge what kind of businesses and industries may flourish in the area.
With an increase in awareness for students comes a similar experience for businesses in attendance. Because the Northwoods is seeing an increase in job opportunities and companies that are moving to the area, this event also allows local companies to showcase their professional opportunities and network with other businesses.
“Rhinelander is becoming the ‘hub’ of the Northwoods,” said Leah Van Zile, community relations leader for Wisconsin Public Service. “The relationship between the schools and businesses is a direct connection to the success of our local economy and industry growth. Strong schools support local business and in turn, the amount of business helps to support and strengthen the schools. We must continue to promote opportunities within our community to help our students advance their education and careers.”
Superior Diesel, another company representing the Northwoods at the Taste of the Future event expressed similar viewpoints as to how students and families benefit from this event. “This event really provides awareness of what there is to offer in the community,” said Samantha Stauber. Stauber, an accountant for Superior Diesel, attended the event in 2012 and believes that with business-specifically in the field of technology-continuing to grow in the Northwoods, the event will only become more successful in years to come.
Taste of the Future has proven to be a rewarding experience for all participants, both in the academic and professional realms. With resources being presented from all different companies and industries, students and their families can benefit greatly and obtain a good perspective about the availability of career paths.
“The opportunities that local businesses offer students and young professionals in the area are ever-growing, and students and members of the community should take advantage of this event. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to familiarize yourself with local representatives about their career offerings and the importance of education,” advised Phalin. “It’s a great occasion to realize just what is available in our local Northwoods area.”