Hanging with high schoolers

As a high school student and later as a college student, I’m thankful for the opportunities I had to expand my knowledge outside of the classroom. I worked in the lab for a local chemical company, did research for an oil and gas company, hired and trained seasonal employees for a national toy retailer all before I had a degree under my belt (or paid for.)

These experiences gave me access to employees in these fields and to find out about career paths and educational requirements. While I likely didn’t know it at the time, these experiences were also showing me how business decisions are made, the importance of financial management, and the value of ethics. All of those experiences helped to mold me into the person I am today, but more importantly, they instilled a life-long passion in me for student opportunities like mentoring, shadowing, co-op training and internships.

Today now more than ever, we need to encourage students to explore all opportunities for higher education and career paths. “Higher education” can take many forms a traditional four year degree, a technical certification, an associate’s degree, an accelerated program that is a combination of classroom and direct work experience. Higher education is truly an investment a financial investment and an investment of time and resources.

I wish I had taken full advantage of learning about different careers and educational opportunities when I was still in high school. Would I have entered college as a pre-med physics major if I had done more research? Probably not. Would I have spent two years as a pre-med major if I had known that I really liked the “business-side” of health care instead of the “clinical” side? Probably not. I regret the money and time that I inadvertently wasted during the first two years of my higher education trying to figure it all out.

On April 10 the Schools & Business Committee of the Chamber will hold its annual High School Business Symposium in the Multipurpose Room at WVU-Parkersburg from 8:30 am.-2:30 p.m. It is a day full of activities to teach area students about business, ethics, resource allocation, finance and communication directly by a group of representatives from the Chamber of Commerce. It’s fun, interactive and educational! But more importantly, the day allows the area high school students to meet over 15 different business representatives who will enlighten the students about various career paths and provide guidance on educational opportunities.

My hope is the students who participate in this year’s symposium look back at the experience the way I have viewed my out-of-classroom experiences they will learn a lot about other people and business, but more so, they will learn a lot about themselves.

Thank you to the members of the committee that have worked to put this event together (Chairperson Sarah Holt, John Huffman, Brian Raitz, Dave Lewis, Jodi Smith, Lori Hart, Ed Alfred and Dan Canada) and to the members of the Chamber who have already committed to spend the day with the 100-plus students and share their experiences:

Christie Matherly – Murray Sheet Metal

Don Brown – Parkersburg Police Department

Doug Hess – The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley

Jeff Olson – WVU Extension Service

Justin King – Bureau of Public Debt

Kevin Grose – DuPont Washington Works

Lauren Keeling – WTAP

Liz Ford – Westbrook Health Services

Mark Rhodes – Wood County Clerk’s Office

Michael McCartney WesBanco

Rick Olcott – DuPont Washington Works

Rickie Yeager – City of Parkersburg

Ryan Taylor – Pickering Associates

We are still in need of five additional Chamber representatives who are able to spend the day with us at WVU-P on Wednesday, April 10. If you are interested, please contact us at the Chamber office at 304-422-3588.

School participation is coordinated through each school’s principal or designee. The deadline to submit students’ names for participation is Wednesday, April 3.

High school juniors from the following schools have been invited to participate:

Belpre High School

Mid-Ohio Valley Technical Institute

Parkersburg Catholic High School

Parkersburg High School

Parkersburg South High School

Ravenswood High School

Ripley High School

St. Mary’s High School

Warren High School

Williamstown High School

Wood County Christian School

Upcoming Events:

On-line registration is available at www.movchamber.org or call the Chamber at 304-422-3588.

* March Business After Hours hosted by Peoples Bank, Thursday, March 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., new Peoples Bank branch at 1102 Grand Central Ave., Vienna; free for Chamber members.

* April Lunch & Learn with Murray Sheet Metal, Friday, April 5, from 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m., WV Central Credit Union, second-floor conference Room, 809 Division St. Attend to learn more about the services provided by Murray Sheet Metal with a concentration on HVAC for spring and summer needs. All attendees will receive a coupon for a free HVAC. evaluation. Lunch provided by Third Street Deli. Free for Chamber members.

Visit this space every other Sunday for more Chamber news. We also invite you to call us at 304-422-3588, email us at info@movchamber.org, or stop by the Chamber office at 409 1/2 Market St., Parkersburg.


Jill Parsons is president/ CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley.