RCS job fair opens doors down the road

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Representatives from TCI of NY — including RCS High School junior Brendin Winfield, center — share the opportunities that are available at the Coeymans-based company. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

RAVENA — Some high school students know exactly the path they want to take once they have their diploma in hand. For others, the future may not be so clear.

Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School launched its new Career Café on Friday with the school’s first-ever Manufacturing Job Fair to open students’ eyes to the opportunities that are quite literally just down the road.

Roughly 60 high school juniors and seniors attended the fair, held inside the Career Café — a portion of the school’s library — with some of the area’s largest employers explaining the manufacturing careers that are possible right in their own neighborhood.

“We really don’t know the types of opportunities that are available in these industries,” District Superintendent Dr. Brian Bailey said. “They are constantly evolving and they are in dire need of employees. Whether our students decide to go directly to college, enlist or choose to go work somewhere, this is giving them a broader scope and perspective on what possibilities might be out there.”

Companies attending the job fair included TCI of NY, SABIC, Finke Equipment, Owens Corning and Carver Companies.

Each business gave an overview of their company and then spoke to smaller groups of students about the opportunities they offer before and after graduation.

“Being able to provide students with direct access to local employment information prior to them graduating is a key component of preparing our students for the working world,” Certified Work-Based Learning Coordinator Maureen Martin said. “We look forward to offering more opportunities like this one in the future.”

SABIC employees speak with RCS juniors and seniors at the school’s first-ever Manufacturing Job Fair on Friday. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Job opportunities at these businesses range from engineering to manufacturing to laborer, and for some students, the work begins long before they graduate high school.

Junior Brendin Winfield works for TCI of NY, earning a salary, while attending high school. He shared his experiences with the company with his fellow students during the job fair presentation. The opportunities have been far-reaching, he said.

“I started my internship and I really love it,” Winfield said. “I am doing all kinds of fun things, and I love the pay. With the money I earned I have been able to afford things for my other small businesses — my plan is to work full-time for TCI and on the side, do my landscaping.”

With the salary he earns at TCI, Winfield has been able to purchase a truck and an $11,000 lawnmower for his landscaping business. He also co-owns a power-washing company with his brother.

“No other company would hire a 16-year-old and give him this opportunity and put him in a position where he can learn new things and have a fun time learning them, too,” Winfield said.

He’s not sure yet what he will do after graduation — some possibilities include working in landscaping full-time or learning a trade like welding — but Winfield said he has learned a lot in his internship with TCI.

“TCI is a great way to learn a lot of new things,” Winfield said. “You learn how to get that great work ethic that most kids need.”

The goal of the job fair, and the new Career Café, is to give students the chance to explore the opportunities that are available to them.

“It’s about helping kids get ready for the three E’s — employment, enlistment, enrollment,” High School Principal Dr. Lisa Patierne said. “We have been working on ways for students to be able to see the pathways that are available to them. Many kids will go to college, but many like to work with their hands and want to go out and get a skill or trade, so that is something we have been working on for the past several years.”

TCI was the first company to work with the school on workforce development and the partnership has led to many students finding paid work.

“They have hired many of our students,” Patierne said. “All I have to do is call them up and say I have a student that is looking for a job, they will come here, interview them and for the most part, they hire them right on the spot.”

When some students were attending school remotely at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, many of them were able to attend virtual classes and work full-time at TCI at the same time, Patierne said.

“Last year some of our students were learning remotely — TCI would pay them to work 40 hours a week, and they had a space for them to do their classes and then they would go back and work for TCI,” she said. “They were working full-time, with a full-time salary, while going to school.”

Some of the area’s largest employers are already working with the school, but Patierne is looking to bring on more.

“We are hoping to create more partnerships with more companies,” she said.

Efy Asher, the workforce development leader at SABIC, said her company attended the job fair to broaden students’ knowledge about what is available locally.

“We are here to share the variety of careers that we have at SABIC,” Asher said. “It’s a great way to interact with students and have those one-on-one conversations with them and be able to share with them all the great careers that are right down the road that they might not be aware of.”

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