Employees of the future

Students at Webster City High School gathered at an assembly on Wednesday to learn about what employers look for in applicants and the importance of their current school work.

Co-Principal Becky Hacker-Kluver welcomed students to the assembly which hosted a panel of area employers and educators. They answered prepared questions and inquiries from students in the audience.

Curriculum Director Linda Williams hosted the panel. She began the panel discussion by asking participants about the importance of schoolwork and applying oneself in high school. Mike Sherwood, superintendent of Webster City and Northeast Hamilton schools, said students develop work habits and traits doing homework and participating in other school activities.

“Will you use all the content that you learn in high school? No, but you’ll use a good share of it and you never know when you’ll need it,” Sherwood said. “So, the habits you’re establishing in high school, completing things on time, getting good grades, holding yourself accountable, setting standards for yourself, setting goals, are all traits that will serve you well in the future.”

The discussion then moved to an employment standpoint. Williams asked participants what automatically rules out an applicant from consideration for a position. Scott McLeod, director of innovation at Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency, said presentation is a large factor. That includes on paper, electronically and in-person.

“Nobody wants a slouch, nobody wants a slob, nobody wants somebody who can’t seem to read or write or speak effectively,” McLeod said. “Basically, what they want to know is, can you make a positive difference for us. How you present yourself is a way, early on, to show them that.”

When asked what surprises panelists about skills that applicants lack as they look for employment, John Van Diest, vice president of marketing at Van Diest Supply Company, gave several examples. He said math, grammar and spelling are important, as well as good communication skills.

“You have to have the ability to communicate face-to-face. You do not learn communication skills by texting or messing around on Facebook,” Van Diest said.

During time for panelists to give any additional advice to students in attendance, Matt Shannon, store manager at Webster City Fareway, said they should be fully committed to whatever they choose to do in life.

“No matter what you do, success is what you see it as. Apply yourself, whether it’s washing dishes, being a CEO for a company, whatever it is, apply yourself and do the best you can at what you do,” Shannon said.