(Article: Port Clinton News Herald – September 26, 2018)
The state’s top school administrator, Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction at the Ohio Department of Education, got a firsthand look at how Ottawa County collaboration is helping local students and local businesses.
On Wednesday, DeMaria visited Spencer Segaard, a senior at Oak Harbor High School, who is interning at Baumann Ford Genoa as part of the Career Engagement Opportunities, or CEO Internship Program, which is offered by the Ottawa County Business Advisory Council.
“Educating students is everyone’s responsibility,” DeMaria said. “We constantly welcome partnerships with anybody and everybody that has an interest in what our future is going to look like and what our kids are doing.” Business plays a pivotal role in that, he said, especially for high school students, to help them understand what the real world of work looks like, how they can gain experience, and what they need to do to succeed.
Guy Parmigian, superintendent of Benton-Carroll-Salem Local Schools, which includes Oak Harbor High School, described the CEO Internship Program as a win-win for the students, the businesses and the schools. “We’re all about preparing kids for college, obviously, but careers we take really seriously,” Parmigian said. Students are getting real-world experience in the workforce and businesses, which are having issues with workforce development, are filling that pipeline, he said.
“The ones that do this sort of internship have the greatest foresight, rather than sorting through resumes,” DeMaria said. “They’re building the people that they want to work for them later on.”
Segaard started his internship at Baumann Ford Genoa toward the end of this summer working with Grant Miller, sales manager there. “Every day something new is happening here, so every day I get to learn something new and develop different skills and learn how to handle different situations,” Segaard said. Miller said this week they talked about the customer experience. “It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, that’s what people are after,” Miller said. “We talked about how we can do that well, how sometimes it doesn’t go very well, and what competitive advantage we can build with the customer service we offer.” When costumers come in and Miller has a conversation with them, Segaard observes the process. After, they debrief and discuss what happened. Segaard said that before the internship he thought he might have an interest in sales, but through the internship he definitely wants to go into sales or sales management.
The CEO Internship Program is made possible through the Ottawa County Business Advisory Council, of which all six county school districts are members, has a mission of engaging the business and education communities to help the needs of both. “We’re really trying to tie everything together so it’s a well-rounded, meaningful experience, not only for the students, but for the businesses and the schools, too,” said Jamie Beier Grant, director of the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation.
DeMaria said Ottawa County can serve as an example for similar communities throughout Ohio for what great collaboration looks like. “We find in our survey work that businesses want to have better partnerships with education, but they’re not always sure how to do it,” he said. “We’re always on the lookout for great examples and we want to elevate those.”