Recruiting event at Kansas encourages girls to think outside the box

Recruiting event at Kansas encourages girls to think outside the box
Posted on 02/02/2018
Madyson Hopkins of Colcord led more than 30 high school girls through a wiring project as part of Northeast Tech’s Jobs for the Girls event in early February. Most days the electrical classroom at Northeast Tech’s Kansas campus is filled with guys training on everything from circuitry to robotics, but that was not the case one Thursday in February when more than 30 high school girls attended Northeast Tech’s annual “Jobs for the Girls” event.

“Today isn't about recruiting for just the electrical program, it's about you thinking outside of the box about what you want to do,” said Electrical Technology Instructor Wade Friesen in his comments to the guests. “Our goal with this event is to create an environment for you to learn more about the training and career opportunities that are available in what’s typically a male-dominated trade.”

The high school students from Kansas, Colcord, Jay, Oaks and Locust Grove who attended the event were greeted with pink tablecloths and pastries for breakfast before taking their seat in the electrical classroom. Friesen invited industry partners from McKee Foods, White Wing Construction, Crossland Construction and Kimbel Mechanical, to kick off the morning session by describing their careers and the professional path they traveled.

After hearing from these ladies, the students donned their safety glasses and headed into the shop for a wiring activity led by Friesen’s current students.

“It was fun – actually learning how to do some I didn't know how to do before,” said J'Lynne Bryant of Kansas. “I liked today.”

Bryant and her classmate, Lainie Payton, were one of the first teams to successfully complete their project which consisted of running and connecting wires to complete a circuit and illuminate a light bulb.

Once all the teams wrapped up their work in the shop, they went for a quick break and then reconvened back in the classroom to hear from a few more women representing industries that included Google, ACIPCO, RAE Corp, and CBI Wholesale Electric Supply.

Erin Stafford, a facility technician and electrical journeyman at Google, spoke to the students about her professional success in a trade typically worked by men.

“At one point we had 1,200 electricians and only three were female, said Stafford. “If you prove to the guys that you're there to work, you'll just become part of the team. Being the only woman doesn't feel odd after a while, so don't let that stop you.”

April Anderson, owner/operator of CBI Wholesale Electric Supply, also shared about her career journey from working alongside her father in the electrical business to realizing that her passion was in the sale of electrical equipment.

“Go after what you want to learn,” said Anderson. “I’m still learning, and I ask the contractors I work with a lot of questions so I can better understand their needs and how my company can help them.”

Students also heard from Tonya Backward, who is responsible for workforce development in MidAmerica Industrial Park. Her comments focused on the many job opportunities available in the park, as well as the pay and benefits that come with the jobs.

“You heard from four of our companies today, but we have 80 companies in the park, and 4,000 people come in and out of the park for work every day,” Backward said. “Talk to your counselors and your teachers, because I've got great partners like RAE and American Castings that will allow you to tour their facilities and learn about the career options available.”

At the close of the event, student advisor Kathie Benson spoke about enrollment procedures, but she also called upon some of the current female students to share their thoughts about the electrical program. Summer Warren, who was a Jobs for the Girls participant two years ago, offered her thoughts about the benefits of attending Northeast Tech.

“You not only pick up skills for your future career, you pick up good habits that will help you with any job,” Warren said. “The number of job options I have now is eye opening.”
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