OTHELLO — Othello High School senior Jose Flores isn't sure what he wants to do with his life.
“I'm graduating, and I really have to be looking for that right now,” he said.
Flores stands in the Othello High School gym with scores of other seniors and watches as Adams County Sheriff's Deputy Tomas Solano demonstrates some of the equipment the law enforcement agency uses — several drones, heat sensitive cameras, riot control gear.
“I'm just here to look for opportunities for my future, seeing what I am interested in,” Flores said. “And basically, it's human services.”
So Flores wants to know just how law enforcement might fit with that.
A police dog barks. Loud enough to be heard over the scores of conversations.
“This is all part of the Moses Lake Tactical Response Team,” Solano explained. “Shared resources, and we bring these to show kids all the roles you can take. We have a lot of opportunities.”
The Adams County Sheriff was just one of the 35 or so employers that gathered in the gym on Thursday for the Othello Career Showcase, bringing future graduates like Flores together with businesses looking for future employees.
“It's going really well,” said Amy Parris, the director of school to careers for the Othello School District. “Seniors are coming through right now, that have about an hour to wander around, talk to employers.”
The goal is both to meet school requirements — possibly set up an interview and “job shadow” with a possible employer and then present a report on it late — but also to be ready for the world of work once they have their diplomas in their hands.
“I like seeing a bunch of companies coming in one and talking about what they offer,” Flores said. “It's good for us, because we don't know what's out there yet.”
“So looking at this really helps me find out what I really want to be for the rest of my life,” he added.
And that seemed to be the general consensus among students as they wandered from table to table, talked to potential employers, and saw what potential employers have to offer.
“We've got a lot of opportunities for students right here,” said Ivette Frias, a quality control manager with Netherlands-based multinational food processor SVZ.
Frias said the company, which processes fresh fruits and vegetables as well makes concentrates and baby food, is looking for all kinds of people to work in Othello, from line workers to maintenance and even agronomists.
“It's a great value, as soon as students graduate, we want them to know there are opportunities for them here in Othello,” Frias said. “Even if they want to go get an education somewhere else, they can always come back here and work locally.”
SVZ will also help employees further their education, and as a global company with operations across the world, Frias said the company also has an assortment of opportunities worldwide as well.
The SVZ booth is busy as Othello High School seniors wander around, and Frias cheerfully explains what her company does to all who show an interest.
But for students who are just beginning to think about what they can do with the rest of their lives, it's something of a hard sell.
“I'm not so sure yet,” said senior Gabriela Mora. “I want to go to college for sure, and I've been thinking about business or education, being an elementary school teacher.”
Mora said she was most interested in the Othello School District's career fair booth.
“I'll probably go job shadow an elementary school teacher, and see if I actually like it,” she said.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.