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Businesses Assist Future Workforce

For many, making the transition from high school to the workforce can be a daunting proposition. Managing a disability can further compound the usual stresses associated with finding work after school.

For a group of students across Missouri, the idea of finding employment after graduation is a little less intimidating after participating in National Groundhog Job Shadow Day.

The event pairs students and area employers with the goal of easing the transition from school to work. Groups from Fredericktown High School and Marquand-Zion High School took part in the program, going to several local businesses to further understand what it takes to obtain and hold a job.

Six Fredericktown High School students made a trip to Cap America in Fredericktown for a tour and sit-down with the company’s Human Resource Director Sarah Burgin. Burgin spoke to the students about the job-seeking process from beginning to end.

Before the tour Burgin gave the students advice on how best to fill out an application and how to conduct oneself during an interview. She asked some of the students questions she normally asks potential new hires, then provided feedback on their answers.

Above all, Burgin stressed that at Cap America, attitude and work ethic prove to be the most important qualities of job candidates.

“If you haven’t had a job, it’s okay,” Burgin said. “It’s not a deal breaker. If you’re willing to learn and you’re willing to work hard, we have job opportunities for you.”

The students then took a tour of Cap America’s facilities and Burgin spoke about the responsibilities of employees in the different parts of the building before reconvening and speaking about the things they’d seen and heard.

Two other Fredericktown students spent their job shadowing day at Country Mart in Fredericktown, learning the ropes of unloading new products and stocking the shelves.

The final two students from Fredericktown spent their day at Madison Medical Center. One of those students regularly works there through the school, and the other spent his day working in the hospital’s laundry.

Four students from Marquand-Zion school district visited Moore’s Grocery Store in Marquand where the owner, Jim Moore spoke to the students about how to interact with customers, among other things related to working at a retail business.

Anna Berkbuegler, a pre-employment transition services specialist with the University of Missouri, coordinated the event and also joined the group which toured Cap America. She said the day seemed to be an overall success.

“I think it went pretty well,” she said. “Cap America was excellent.”

Berkbuegler said all of the employers who participated were wonderful to work with and effectively communicated valuable skills to the students. She said it’s easy to speak to students about making goals and building skills, but seeing firsthand what it’s like to go through an interview or to work at a business makes the abstract idea into reality.

Across the country, more than 100,000 businesses and one million students participated in the National Groundhog Job Shadow Day. This was the second year the program was administered by the Pre-Employment Transition Service of the University of Missouri, but the initiative has been around on a national scale since 1996.

Students from Fredericktown High School sit down with Cap America Human Resource Director Sarah Burgin to discuss job applications and interviews before a tour of the facility.

Students from Fredericktown High School sit down with Cap America Human Resource Director Sarah Burgin to discuss job applications and interviews before a tour of the facility.

Students from Marquand-Zion School District visited Moore's Grocery Store in Marquand for their job shadowing on Jan. 31.

Students from Marquand-Zion School District visited Moore’s Grocery Store in Marquand for their job shadowing on Jan. 31.

Cap America Human Resource Director Sarah Burgin leads the students on a tour of Cap America's facilities Feb. 2.

Cap America Human Resource Director Sarah Burgin leads the students on a tour of Cap America’s facilities Feb. 2.

Two students work at Country Mart in Fredericktown Feb. 2, learning how to stock shelves with new product.

Two students work at Country Mart in Fredericktown Feb. 2, learning how to stock shelves with new product.

A student works in the laundry at Madison Medical Center for his job shadowing experience on Feb. 2.

A student works in the laundry at Madison Medical Center for his job shadowing experience on Feb. 2.

A student works with the janitorial crew at Madison Medical Center on Feb. 2.

A student works with the janitorial crew at Madison Medical Center on Feb. 2.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Democrat News. He can be reached at 573-783-3366 or jscott@democratnewsonline.com.

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