MOUNT VERNON — Nine juniors and seniors at the Knox Learning Center spent the day Thursday learning all of the skills they will need to turn their dreams into careers during a piloted career intelligence workshop through the Knox Technical Center. The students, joined by community partners, learned about the importance of strong communication skills, tips and tricks for interviews, resume building and job searching, and financial information that will set them up for a successful future.
The workshop was funded with a grant through a United Way program called Women United, Elizabeth Doolittle, United Way program director told the News. She explained that although the grant was awarded to KTC once, it will go to fund several iterations of the career intelligence workshop.
“The workshop really fits with the United Ways goals of health, education and financial stability,” Doolittle said. “It’s just something we were passionate about supporting to improve the lives of these entering the workforce here in Knox County. It’s not just a lecture, it’s giving them experience with potential employers, it’s real experiential learning for interviews and for real life.”
Communication and professional skills were led by lead instructor for the workshop Lovel Quinn.
“We’re seeing that in today’s society there is probably the greatest need out there as far as needing communication skills, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, the soft skills,” Quinn said. “They are very crucial to marketing students, even just for them to be able to just function in society, but also so that they can meet the job force.”
It was called a career intelligence workshop, according to Quinn, because it covered everything participants needed to know to get a job and to keep the job. Body language, nonverbal and verbal communication skills, how to handle conflict and how to take constructive criticism were all the biggest topics for discussion, Quinn explained, because they set a precedent for job seekers and interviewers.
“These are things they can actually use the rest of their life, not only in their jobs but in their family lives as well,” Quinn said. “It gives them some great skills to be able to use and they might not be getting them otherwise.”
Financial literacy was also a component of the workshop, Quinn explained, with The People’s Bank of Gambier and Mount Vernon educating the students on balancing checkbooks and basic finance.
The workshop was punctuated with a panel of community professionals, who explained everything they look for in potential candidates, which included everything from promptly showing up for an interview to clean social media accounts. After their question and answer session, the panelists joined the students for a few lightning rounds of mock interview sessions.
“This workshop is all about relationship building and networking with the community, and these students are our future,” Michelle Garcia, director of human resources at Ohio Eastern Star Home. “We need to do whatever we can to just help them get into jobs and be successful.”
The most important thing for job seekers to know, according to Garcia, is effective communication skills.
“It is what is going to be able to sell you and it’s going to explain yourself to an employer,” Garcia said. “And it’s how all of our decisions in interviews are going to be made.”
Junior Michael Conrad explained to the News that the workshop made him realize that appearances matter in job interviews.
“One of the main things I learned is that appearances are a big part of it,” Conrad said. “Just the way you carry yourself and a smile can make all the difference.”
The following morning after the workshop, participants were able to visit Interchurch Social Services and Shoe Sensation for a new set of clothing and shoes for their future interviews, the cost of which were included in the grant through Women United, Gastin said.
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Another session of the KTC Career Intelligence workshop is slated to run Jan. 17 2019 with a snow date of Jan. 24. For more information contact Lori Gastin at the Knox Technical Center at 740-393-2933 ext. 1114.