PARKERSBURG -Area high school students and representatives from the business community got to interact Wednesday at the High School Business Symposium.
About 80 high school juniors and seniors, as well as representatives from 11 area businesses, met throughout the day in the multipurpose room at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Participants talked about opportunities in a variety of career possibilities, what can be done to enter certain fields, and worked on team-building exercises.
The High School Business Symposium features people in the fields of health care, banking, nonprofits, small businesses and various industries, said Sarah Holt of Community Resources, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley's symposium committee.
"What we are hoping to accomplish is by the students and the business representatives working together through different activities throughout the day is the students will be able to learn and be able to network about the different industries in this area that we have to offer," Holt said. "We want to be able to help them, if they haven't decided what career path they want to take and maybe direct them a certain way.
"If they are sure which direction they want to go in, we wanted them to be able to talk to someone in that career so they can get a little more direction on what they should do and how to get there. It is also a good opportunity for students from different high schools to come together."
Participants attended discussions on financial management and ethics, did a game called "Win As Much As You Can," which taught them about ethics in the business place, and did a team-building game called "If Eggs Can Fly," where a table has to work together to accomplish a goal.
There was a presentation on the educational opportunities available at WVU-P.
In the afternoon, participants did interviews with their business representatives to find out why they chose their career path, how they got there and if they would do anything differently.
"It has been a pretty jam-packed day," Holt said. "It has also been a fun day."
Jonathan Henson, a senior at Parkersburg High School, said his business teacher told him about the symposium and thought it would be worth attending for interacting with other high school students, talking with business representatives and doing team-building exercises.
Henson is still considering what career path he will take.
"I am still weighing my options, but one thing I have looked into is marketing," he said. "I have some theater background. I figured that with marketing and business, I think it makes a pretty good combination to be able to market things."
Henson said he has enjoyed the opportunities to talk and interact with others at the event.
"I have enjoyed communicating with a lot of people, the team-building exercises, seeing how people think and seeing how we communicate in short time periods, like in building a parachute for an egg in 15 minutes," he said. "It puts the pressure on us to actually work. We communicate pretty well. It was fun to be able see what solving problems is like with other people."
Philadelphia Hewitt, a PHS senior, is taking business classes and thought this event would be a great opportunity.
"We have been doing a lot of group projects here that have been showing us the fundamentals of business and some of the important aspects of it," she said.
The "Win As Much As You Can" game made people calculate on where to take risks and try to figure out problems.
"Sometimes when you win as much as you can, you don't always get it all," Hewitt said. "You have to keep your integrity. That is the most important thing."
Representatives were at the symposism from Advantage Bank, the Boys and Girls Club, Camden Clark Medical Center, J.F. Deem Oil and Gas, Kraton, Marshall Training Solutions, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, Regional Education Service Agencies, West Virginia Central Credit Union, West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Perry and Associates CPAs.
"The business people get the chance to come out and talk with students who are motivated and ambitious about what these people do and what they do in the community," Holt said. "I think the business reps get a good feeling in helping these students make a decision or answer some questions in helping them to determine what their future career path might be."
Lisa Leach, director of business development at Camden Clark Medical Center, said she has gotten inquiries about careers in the health care field and what options might be available.
"We talked about schooling and what might be best for them," she said. "What I am finding is I am getting to know the students on a more personal level. We get to expose Camden Clark to a greater population and students pursuing careers."
Leach said there were discussions and exercises relating to ethics.
"These students may not yet grasp how important that is," she said. "I hope they walk away realizing that what they do today is really molding who they become."