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The 2019 Career Bound Pre-Employment Training Conference

Jun 27, 2019

A Recap of Career Bound's Kickoff Summer Event by MEDP Career Bound Coordinator, Anna Pearl Johnson

Career Bound Interns helped hand out fresh produce for Harvest2Home
Career Bound Interns helped hand out fresh produce at Harvest2Home

Though many millennials and Gen-Z youth distantly recall their grandparents, especially grandfathers, working in skilled trades such as carpentry, electricity, and fabrication, the pipeline to replenish a rapidly retiring workforce is largely lacking. Workforce development, as shown time and time again, is vital to ensure the economic stability of a community. In McMinnville, where 50% of MHS graduates are not headed off to college, the search for young, equipped workers still remains a challenge. Nonetheless, the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) is attempting to change that.

Career Bound, a summer employment program, seeks to match newly graduated high school students with full-time local summer jobs which have the potential to turn directly into careers. The program specifically targets students who do not plan to attend 4-year colleges directly after high school, providing them a direct professional work opportunity with greater long term value than simply remaining a part of the 12.4% statewide unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds. Still in the pilot stage for summer 2019, Career Bound has a total of six participating interns and four host companies.

Interns toured McMinnville Water & Light to learn about different career paths
Interns toured McMinnville Water & Light to learn about different career paths

As an introduction to the program, MEDP planned and executed a Pre-Employment Training Conference on June 19th and 20th. The conference focused on enhancing students' soft skills, defined as interpersonal attributes to enable effective social interactions, in accordance with employer request, while offering general workplace etiquette training before interns began their jobs.

The inaugural six Career Bound participants include Iris Armenta and Marckus Smith with Solid Form, Kyle Bertagna with NW Rapid Manufacturing, Hayden Meek-Avedovech and Bevin Schrag with OnlineNW, and Kyle Cool with Fackler Construction.

Over the course of two days, interns heard seven guest lectures from local business leaders on topics such as growth mentality, hiring on character traits, goal setting, personal finance, and company representation. These lessons were all accompanied by student facilitated discussion where all were eager to contribute ideas. In reflection of the topics covered, Kyle Bertagna noted, “I really liked the lecture, “Hiring On Character Traits”. It let us know that not only do companies hire based off of experience and/or degrees but also on characteristics which show who you are as a person. I think some of us were surprised with just how far a smile or a pinch of enthusiasm can go.”

Marckus Smith, intern at Solid Form, stands with another volunteer at Harvest2Home
Marckus Smith, intern at Solid Form, stands with another volunteer at Harvest2Home

Several hours of the conference were dedicated to volunteering with the Yamhill Community Action Partnership's food distribution site, Harvest2Home, open every Wednesday from 9:30am-12:00pm in the McMinnville Senior Center parking lot. Interns helped unload, display, and pass out fresh produce to low-income families seeking free groceries. Not only an exercise in civic responsibility and work ethic, the real world application encouraged students to strengthen interpersonal soft skills of kindness, adaptability, and teamwork. Although at first, the interns were hesitant to engage directly with the people passing through, by the end of the day, interns were hugging families goodbye and wishing them a wonderful rest of their day. Solid Form intern Iris Armenta commented, “ Volunteering was a great experience, anything that gets me more involved and active in the community is so fun and valuable.”

In addition to engaging with lectures and volunteering in the community, Career Bound interns had the opportunity to take company tours of both McMinnville Water & Light and a Fackler Construction site at Stoller Vineyards.

John Dietz, General Manager of McMinnville Water & Light (MW&L), led a tour while telling interns of the vast career potential available through the organization. Seventy-five percent of jobs within MW&L do not require a college degree, plus, the average time spent working at an entry-level position is just four months. This means young adults can go straight from high school into living wage jobs with guaranteed growth potential. With twenty-five percent of employees retiring in the next four years, the need to form connections with young people is especially pressing.

Kyle Cool, intern at Fackler Construction, lifts a water pipe for a large building project at McMinnville Water & Light
Kyle Cool, intern at Fackler Construction, lifts a water pipe for a large building project at McMinnville Water & Light

Ben Fackler, Owner of Fackler Construction and Pro Handyman Services, similarly provided a "company tour" of a near complete job site at Stoller Vineyards. The project, converting an antique horse barn into a modern office space and basketball court, highlighted the versatility and creativity of working in the construction career pathway. Interns got to observe firsthand what a day in the job might actually be like, and imagine themselves working locally in turn. Ben shared a mutual enthusiasm for the program stating, “I really enjoy working with young people that are excited about moving into the next phase of their lives and careers.”

For so long high school has been massively pro-college. While formal education can still be beneficial and result in many opportunities, it is important to note there are other viable paths available to emerging adults which are just as respectable and needed.
Now is the time to grow our skilled trades workforce.
We hope you’ll join us.


A special thanks to all the dedicated individuals involved in the success of the 2019 Pre-Employment Training Conference:

Deven Paolo, Owner/President, Solid Form
Dave Rucker. Volunteer Coordinator, YCAP
John Dietz, General Manager, McMinnville Water & Light
Tayler Brisbin, Comm./Events Manager, McMinnville Downtown Association
Eric Yeaple, Operations Manager, OnlineNW
Corbin Brown, Employee, Fackler Construction
Kristi Mackay, Assistant Director, Linfield College
Kitri McGuire, Marketing Manager, Visit McMinnville
Ben Fackler, Owner, Fackler Construction

Meredith Goddard, Director of Youth Innovation Programming, MEDP
Anna Johnson, Career Bound Program Coordinator, MEDP


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