The Columbia Area Career Center will hold its career showcase and open house from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10. Students and parents can talk to career center teachers and students about available classes and show what the students do in class.
Senior Daniel Schroeder has taken classes at the career center since his freshman year. He started with Introduction to Engineering and Design and moved on to Computer Aided Design (CAD). Since then he has taken more CAD classes as well as animation classes.
“A lot of my childhood was kind of in video games, you know,” Schroeder said. “It’s something that as a youngin I got a lot better at and so my skill set is very orientated to learning how a piece of software works and then using that software and then mastering that software.
“A lot of my childhood was kind of in video games, you know. It’s something that as a youngin I got a lot better at and so my skill set is very orientated to learning how a piece of software works and then using that software and then mastering that software.
Schroeder’s experience in CAD gave him the opportunity to create a prototype for a product that actually went into production. Schroeder’s father works for a company that creates medical supplies, and one day he came to his son with an idea he had for a product that would help treat scoliosis. Based on a few rough sketches, Schroeder created a prototype and exported it to a studio lithography file which allowed the design to be 3D printed. Within a few weeks, it was approved and Schroeder’s design became a product that is already helping people.
Schroeder’s teacher Robert Allee attests to the practicality of the classes he teaches. Allee teaches CAD and 3D animation design. His classes provide specialized, career-oriented education while also teaching students to work collaboratively.
“We try to show [the students] snippets and get them working on projects that they would be doing in the real world,” Allee said. “It’s kind of like on the job training. So we’re actually trying to simulate the workplace.”
Eric Radmer, who teaches construction, similarly works to replicate a working environment. While Allee’s students typically use his classes as a springboard for college, Radmer’s classes focus on skills used in jobs that don’t necessarily require a college degree.
“In construction, I have students right now that as soon as they graduate they have a full-time job ready to go and they don’t have to any other training, [their employer will] train them on the job doing what they want to do,” Radmer said. “I had a sales guy come in one time and [he] talked about his experience growing up. He’s an older fella and [he talked about] how he got started. He said, ‘Hey look, you don’t really have to go to college to get a four-year degree to do what I’ve done. You know I’ve been successful and I’ve been able to work myself up to management [through] really hard work and commitment to making it happen.’”
Regardless of whether or not college is the end goal, the career center provides unique opportunities that wouldn’t be available to students at the Columbia high schools.
“Each of [the career center freshman year courses] is designed to give you a bit of a taste test in a bunch of different fields,” Schroeder said. “You get a little bit of everything. You get to find what you like out of those courses and then you can take more specialized routes.”
The showcase will be a chance for students who want to learn more about career center classes to see some of the things career center students create, and talk to teachers and other students that have taken the classes.
“They get to see maybe something that catches their eye, something that looks interesting to them,” Allee said. “You could say what you’re going to do, but to actually visually represent that is much more appealing. We call it eye candy. Coming from me, it’s one thing, but coming from a peer it’s totally different. So if you get a peer review, get a student in there talking at a one-on-one level, it’s much more valuable to the kid.”
Allee stresses the importance of students starting career center classes early if possible, which allows them to identify their interest and follow a course of study in that direction.
“The problem is sometimes we get kids too late,” Allee said. “We get students who come over here when they’re a junior or a senior and then they find something and they’re like, ‘wow, I wish I had done this earlier,’ [but] they come in too late to explore it further. It’s never too late, but the biggest thing is, you just see a lot of kids who go ‘wow, if I’d only known this was here.’ A lot of regret that [they] didn’t start sooner.”
While events like the showcase are usually targeted at incoming freshman, any student can go and learn about opportunities the career center provides; seemingly hidden classes but ones that lie just beyond the RBHS parking lot.
“You should just ask yourself, ‘what do I know about the career center?’ and if you draw a blank, ‘I really don’t know anything,’ ask around, ask friends and come over and take a look,” Allee said. “It’s open to anyone.”