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Negaunee, Westwood students visit NMU

CAREER DAY

Seth Figler, an instructor in Northern Michigan University’s Automotive Service Technology program, teaches local high schoolers about vehicle alignments during the Feb. 14 Career Day at the Jacobetti Complex. Students were introduced to a number of career programs offered at NMU. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — Making parfaits and seeing how an automobile alignment is performed are just a few examples of what local students did during the Feb. 14 Career Day at Northern Michigan University’s Jacobetti Complex.

Sophomores from Negaunee and Westwood high schools, as well as students from the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency who take high school classes, visited various stations to be exposed to various career programs offered at NMU and job opportunities that could result from them.

These fields included automotive technology, hospitality management; construction management; heating, ventilating and air conditioning; welding; and cosmetology. NMU faculty — and sometimes current NMU students — led the sessions.

John Centko, head of the NMU Department of Technology and Occupational Sciences, said the students attended two sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon. Before the event, students picked the top five programs they wanted to attend, and unique schedules that included four sessions were created for them.

“It really provides students that excellent opportunity to select exactly what they want to learn about,” Centko said, “and it does it in a very specific amount of time, a half hour to 45 minutes, and then they move on to the next session.

“So, it’s enough to gain the information that they want, to learn about the program, and have some great conversation in a relatively small group setting, about 15 to 20 students and one or two instructors in the class.”

The sessions also varied depending on the field.

For example, Centko said that NMU’s automotive program includes students from MARESA and its Middle College taking courses.

In that way, Career Day served as a peer-to-peer event.

“They go to the different stations in the automotive program and they might hit five or six different stations and find out what type of activities or work components are done on the vehicles,” said.

In doing so, the students talk to the older students, learning from their experience.

Hundreds of high schoolers learned about NMU’s programs through the Career Day events. Centko said that 200 juniors from Marquette Senior High School visited the Jacobetti Complex the week of Feb. 3 for a similar Career Day.

“So, in a two-week period, we’ve had close to 320, 325 students come through and visit our facilities and learn more about our programs and some of these Career Technical Education programs that are high demand in our community, region and across the nation,” Centko said.

He called many two-year programs a “quick journey for students to get in and get out” to obtain high-paying careers. A new generation of skilled employees will be especially needed considering the number of employees who will retire from the workforce in the coming years.

Centko pointed out that some of these shorter programs reduce the amount of student loans and college debt that burden many people.

There’s yet another appealing aspect to these programs; such career fields isn’t necessarily specific to gender, even though some have been predominantly male.

In fact, females took part in Career Day too.

“It provides young women a wonderful opportunity to see a lot of career and technical opportunities that they might not see or be exposed to,” Centko said, “so it provides great opportunities for both young men and young women.”

He mentioned hospitality management as a field that appeals to both genders.

“How can they manage people?” Centko said. “These are programs that aren’t related to a physical strength or physical component behind them, but more of a management component and being able to work with other people.”

He noted NMU has several women in the welding program, and its construction management program is growing significantly in the number of females.

Dayna Gagnon, a Negaunee High School sophomore, watched with interest as Seth Figler, an instructor in the NMU Automotive Service Technology program, taught the students about car alignments, using electronics and an actual car.

What’s important about the day for her?

“Making me think about what I want to do in the future,” Gagnon said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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