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Class Project: Career Readiness Center

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Do you remember your first professional job interview? John Henscheid (John Deere) opened his team’s project presentation recounting his experience interviewing for his first internship and how out of place he felt. The story incited knowing laughter from the Ottumwa Leadership Academy Graduation Ceremony attendees, highlighting how challenging interviewing can be for everyone. 

The Career Readiness Center Team Project was formed to help students at Indian Hills Community College overcome those barriers that many audience members knew all too well. Zenna Boyd (JBS), Cara Galloway (CASA), John Henscheid (John Deere Ottumwa Works), Justin Hunter (ORHC), Michael Kral (John Deere Ottumwa Works), and Olson Miller (OM Design & Photography) came together to develop a design and cost estimates for both renovations of existing space and construction of a new standalone facility to serve students at Indian Hills Community College. Design plans included office space, a computer bank, meeting rooms, interviewing space and a clothing closet.

The team secured a commitment from CATO fashion to donate unsold dress attire at the end of the season to help ensure students have professional attire while job searching.  

In addition to the space design, the team identified critical needs of students entering the professional world, including interviewing practice, resume writing, and soft skills development. As a result, the team secured commitments from local organizations to provide workshops and work with students to help prepare them for entry into the workforce. 

Jennifer Erdman, Operations Manager, Iowaworks for Indian Hills Community College, worked with the project team to develop plans for the new Career Readiness Center. She said, “The work this group put into this project will have lasting effects on the students at Indian Hills Community College and the community. The Career Readiness Center will provide students and alumni a place to receive career guidance, build their resumes and cover letter, and meet employers. In addition, it will bring together trained individuals and employers who need their talent. We hope that this encourages these talented students to remain in our local area and help our businesses thrive.”

Team projects are evaluated by a panel of judges from the Ottumwa Leadership Academy Advisory Board. The panel, consisting of Jill Budde (Indian Hills Community College), Wes Krenz (Community 1st), and Cassie Plowman (John Deere), evaluate the team projects based on several categories ranging from project deliverables to sustainability. The Career Readiness Center won the top team project award, earning a $500 donation to the project. 

Does your organization have a project or initiative that serves Wapello County that would benefit from working with a diverse team of dedicated community leaders? Interested organizations with team project ideas are invited to submit a project proposal by Tuesday, September 9, 2021. 

Email htometich@leadottumwa.org for application forms.