Dennis Trenger is the director of early college and college credit plus at Stark County Educational Service Center in Canton, Ohio, and he recognizes the need to give students firsthand experience with the careers that they hope to pursue.
“A lot of kids have a vision, think they might know what a career is, but until they get to watch somebody live it, they may not understand,” said Trenger. “They want to be veterinarians or game designers or web developers, but what do the people in those careers really do?”
At Timken Early College High School, business and industry professionals are regularly brought in to talk about their fields, how they got into them and what was important for them to know to get the jobs they wanted. That exposure doesn’t just help students solidify what they want to do with their futures, but also helps them make connections between what they’re learning and how it will help them in the workforce.
Seniors at Timken are also required to visit eight colleges and universities in the area to broaden their understanding of what’s available.
“Youngstown State University has what they call ’crash‘ days – a chance for the kids to go in and ’crash‘ particular courses, get to see them in live action, hear the professors,” said Trenger. “These days are really meant to open their eyes and to be sure they’re pursuing the right pathway. When our graduates transition into higher education, we don’t want them to waste time and money exploring what they want to do.”
Trenger, along with Timken Early College High School’s principal, Kenneth Brunner, believe in the value of these experiences to better prepare their students for success – in college, and in their future careers. Because there are few opportunities that match “putting students, professionals and graduates in the same room, on their terms, and letting kids ask questions,” said Trenger. “That’s the exposure they need to experts in the fields they’re hoping to pursue.”