Students in West Bend learn about career options at networking event

By Ralph Chapoco

Dec. 14, 2018

Students Gabriella Santamaria, center, and Millie Salinas sit with Capt. Tim Dehring of the West Bend Police Department during the Power of Networking event Thursday in the West Bend West High School cafeteria.
Ralph Chapoco/Daily News

WEST BEND — More than 60 students spent their morning at the West Bend West cafeteria Thursday morning, learning about various career possibilities, along with the training and education required, when they complete their secondary education.

Representatives from the Casa Guadalupe Education Center hosted their Power of Networking event, inviting about 40 professionals from the community to meet with students from their Dream to Succeed initiative.

“I honestly was really impressed with the students,” said Maria Gutierrez-Gurrola, the Hispanic literacy coordinator for Casa Guadalupe. “Like I said at the end, I cannot speak enough about our students and the program. For as nervous as what they were coming into this, I think the professionals did a great job of guiding them and really assisting with that networking goal they had to meet.”

The event featured several rounds of networking presented in a variety of formats. According to the itinerary provided, it began with a breakfast in which several students sat with professionals at the different tables available in the cafeteria after obtaining their meals.

It offered participants the chance to introduce themselves, their backgrounds as well as the types of careers and industries they were interested in working in upon graduating from high school.

 “I am really interested in photography to be honest, just seeing pictures and being able to capture a moment in a picture, it is so cool to me,” student Francesca Vela said.

Once breakfast was completed, Gutierrez-Gurrola then reviewed the goal of the gathering as well as the rules, before allowing the professionals and students to mingle amongst themselves — similar to other networking events for adults who network when changing careers or seeking other opportunities.

Brenda Ehrlich, Director of Inspire Washington County, speaks with students Thursday at the Power of Networking event hosted by the Casa Guadalupe Education Center. More than 60 students, all Hispanic, attended the gathering to learn more about potential careers once they graduate high school.
Ralph Chapoco/Daily News

For the following 20 minutes, professionals working in a variety of fields, from health care to manufacturing, as well as financial services and law enforcement, described the companies they worked for and the various job prospects in their respective industries.

They also provided advice for students planning their future careers and informed them about the different resources that are available for choosing a career, as well as education training possibilities.

“If they think they are going into something such as a self-employed business, they should get that well-rounded business background, pay attention to those business classes, learn everything they can because that will help them in the long run,” Thrivent Financial Associate Ramiro Paz said.

The event culminated in a question and answer session in which the professionals lined themselves along the wall of the cafeteria, making themselves available for questions in an open setting.

“What is one thing you wish you had done differently when you were in high school?” one attendee asked.

The answers ranged, from participating in job shadowing opportunities, to keeping their minds open to different career possibilities.

In the end, they also received guidance for how they should live their lives.

“Be kind to other people,” said Capt. Tim Dehring from the West Bend Police Department. “People who are mean-spirited do not get opportunities.”