DANVILLE — Students at Kenneth D. Bailey Academy received a taste Friday of what it’s like in the real world of work.
During the academy’s second career day, representatives from 18 different companies and fields of interest in Danville and the surrounding areas talked to students about what they do for a living and what job opportunities are available.
Principal Tracy Cherry originally came up with the idea to organize a career day. The students offered suggestions on the types of businesses they wanted to know more about.
Cherry said last year’s first career day was received well by the students, so the academy decided to expand this year’s event.
“They learned a lot, and they were exposed to a lot,” she said of the students. “Most of the students are not aware of the opportunities that are here for their future.”
This year, students spent the whole day attending workshops in the top five fields in which they were interested.
“We added an additional time slot,” Cherry said. “They’re going all day so they’ll be able to participate in five workshops; three in the morning and two in the afternoon.”
Each student started Friday with breakfast and received a folder where they could keep materials from the workshops they attended.
During each 45-minute workshop, business professionals made presentations covering everything from what to expect in a particular field and the education needed for a job to various other topics related to their company or field of interest.
A question-and-answer session followed the workshop presentations.
A demonstration box, which showed Watchfire’s LED billboard designs on a small scale, fascinated academy students.
“I like the colors and stuff,” Kijira Walker said, who added that she didn’t realize the signs were manufactured in Danville.
Justin Hart, a Watchfire manufacturing engineer, told the students gathered around the demonstration box that “big billboards could cost as much as half a million dollars.”
Student Matthew Rabine said, “It’s pretty cool. I knew they made them here, but I didn’t know how they made them.”
“I really like it. It’s cool. It kind of looks like a TV,” fellow student Trayquan Orr observed. “I’ve seen them around, but I didn’t know it was made by Watchfire.”
The companies participating in this year’s career day included military careers with the Marines Corps, First Midwest Bank, Danville Area Community College, Neuhoff Media, Sterling Auto Body, Watchfire, Illinois Department of Employment Security, Presence United Samaritans Medical Center, Lakeview College of Nursing, Country Financial, attorney Ed Barney and Viscofan.
The event also included guest speakers, such as Bill Westphal, City of Danville Human Resources director, who spoke to students about city government; District 118 human resources director Dianna Kirk; retired District 118 employee Johnnie Carey; and Kim Kuchenbrod of Vermilion Advantage, who talked about skills employers want to see in applicants; District 118 hearing officer Carolyn Kirk who talked to students about leadership; and motivational speaker Forrest Carter from Champaign who talked to students about overcoming adversity.