In its fifth year, the local OJT program (On the Job Training) continues to successfully introduce local high school students to careers at Sleepy Eye businesses. EDA Coordinator, Kurk Kramer, who works with a committee of local business volunteers to organize the program, said the program started with four students and four businesses the 2013-2014 school year. This school year, 18 businesses and 24 students—from Sleepy Eye Public and St. Mary’s high schools—participated in the OJT program.

High school students are introduced to OJT placement opportunities, for the following school year, through a job fair held at each school in January. The students receive training for the interview process and then apply to the businesses of their choice. After the formal interviews are conducted, students are placed in OJT positions. They report for “work” each school day. Most placements are for one semester, though some may be for the entire school year and some students have been at the same business for their junior and senior years.

On April 17 the businesses and students met for an end of the year OJT meeting. “This meeting gives the students a chance to comment on the program, explain what they appreciated, what they thought was very useful in their experience, provide input on the program as a whole, and also comment on possible improvements and or revisions that they feel would make the program even more effective,” said Kramer.

Kramer asked the students to complete a questionnaire on their OJT experience to share with the business people at the meeting. Following are some of the feedback comments made by students:

•What did you appreciate the most from your OJT Training Day?

“Learning the things I needed to know to do a better job”

“Learning from experienced people”

“Learned how to act and do a real interview”

“Learning how to complete a resume”

•What would you have liked to experience from the OJT Program that you didn’t?

“Working with the machinery”

“Weekly analysis”

“More mock interviews” (four times)

“Going on a service call”

“More time to spend on OJT” (five times)

•What were the best things you experienced during your OJT business time?

“Connecting with the other workers” (six times)

“Appreciating the final product”

“The variety of carpentry jobs”

“First hand experience of working in a medical center”

“All of the work experience with the animals”

“The ‘hands on’ experiences”

•What was the most challenging thing about your OJT experience?

“Getting things done in a short amount of time” (five times)

“Working in the experience with my school schedule” (four times)

“The different confidentiality responsibilities required” (four times)

•State any other information that you would like to share with the OJT Committee and/or businesses.

“More time for OJT” (three times)

“I enjoyed my time a lot!”

“It was a great experience!” (three times)

“The OJT Program is a great thing. I like the hands on learning and seeing things in person.”

“Some of the first days in the program were confusing until I knew more about what I was to do.”

Kramer said he is extremely pleased and proud of the OJT program as it continues to grow and become better every year. “We have seen some of the students get their post-secondary education and return to Sleepy Eye to accept positions at the business they did the OJT Program with,” he said. “There are also some students who have recently received scholarships from their OJT business and have an internship position available for them, as well as a possible position for employment upon completion of their post high school training.”

Kramer is appreciative of all the businesses, and their employees, who are involved with the OJT students. He also mentioned the service provided by OJT volunteers Danielle Havemeier, Kathy Gruenhagen and Connie Dahlberg. He said they are very dedicated, giving extra time and effort in the training sessions and working with the students.

“We would love to see more businesses get involved in the program,” said Kramer. “Please contact me if you would like more information or if you would like your business to be included in the next school year’s program.”