LACONIA — She’s just a high school senior, but Sydney Shepherd has it all figured out.
“I should have my LNA at the end of May, go to LRCC for my gen ed, save some money, and then go to NHTI for nursing, do my RN, get my BSN online, so I have a degree. Then I will work for a little bit, and then hopefully go back to school, so I can be a midwife.”
Shepherd was one of dozens of high school seniors who were at the Huot Technical Center Thursday morning for the annual Career Fair. Representatives from more than 20 local businesses looking for new employees were on hand to meet the young people.
Sharon de la Vergne, carrer support specialist at the Huot, explained this is a chance for the young people to try out their job-searching skills. They needed to dress for success, bring a resume and be ready to speak about themselves.
“They learn how to apply, how to talk to adults, how to get over that stigma of being scared,” she said.
“If they don’t have professional clothes, we provide the clothes for them. I teach them how to tie a tie.”
Troy Miner, a well-spoken young man in a black suit, plans to go to the automotive program at Lakes Region Community College. Some of the students in that program get sponsorships from automobile companies, and a job at a dealership will await them upon graduation.
Experienced mechanics at dealerships can make salaries approaching $100,000 a year.
“I work on my own cars at home,” he said. “I have a Mazda Miata race car that I have modified with a new air intake manifold, new exhaust, redone suspension, fire-suppression system.”
He took an honors biology class at high school and considered pursuing something in the science field, with cars being a secondary interest.
“But that would be a lot of work for something I am not 100 percent passionate about,” he said. “I know this may not pay as well, but I love cars. I’ll also save money on college costs.”
Another student nearby was Chase Harper, who plans to go into the law enforcement field. He plans to get a four-year degree in criminal justice from Plymouth State University. His father, Michael Harper, is a lieutenant with the Meredith Police Department.
Chase Harper and others studying law enforcement at the Huot recently completed a three-week internship at area police departments.
Harper wants to stay local.
“I like the community policing,” he said. “Everyone knows everyone, and I like that recognition.”
Jason Rathbun, managing operator at T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s, had a table at the job fair. He is looking for people who want to fill kitchen positions. Starting pay is $11 an hour.
“Zero experience is required,” he said. “We’re looking for people with a good attitude, people who want to work, will show up and work hard.
“The training program for a line cook is one to two weeks, but it takes a good month or two before they get really comfortable and good at their jobs.”
One word: Plastics
Also manning a recruitment desk at the career fair was Steve Geiger, plant manager at Eptam Plastics in Northfield.
His company makes precision items for the aerospace, medical and semiconductor fields. Some parts are used in surgical procedures and will be placed in the human body.
“The company was family-owned, but it is now owned by a private equity firm out of Boston, and we are looking to grow,” Geiger said.
He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New Hampshire.
He hopes to make contact with young people pursuing an engineering degree who might be interested in internship programs with Eptam and future employment with the company.
He’s also looking for people who may not go on to a four-year degree but are interested in working in precision machining.
Companies participating in the career fair:
Bank of New Hampshire
Belknap County Department of Corrections
Belknap County Nursing Home
Cactus Jack’s Grill - T-bones
Freudenberg Sealing Technologies
Gilford Parks and Recreations
Golden View Health Care
Irwin Motor Group
Laconia Police Department
Lakes Region Childcare Services
Lakes Region Community College - Manufacturing Program
Lakes Region Community Services
Laconia Adult Education
NH Marine Patrol
Mount Washington Cruiseline
NH Auto Dealers
Saint Francis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
Sawyers Dairy Bar
Tech Needs Staffing Agency