Area students visit area companies, explore job opportunities

DeKalb Ogle Workforce Development Consortium hosts the tour

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DeKALB – Kaylee Meyer said she’s torn between pursuing a career in law, computer programming and engineering career paths, but the tour she took Tuesday with other area high school students could help her ultimately decide.

The DeKalb Ogle Workforce Development Consortium took about 85 students from Sycamore, DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston and Rochelle Township high schools to visit businesses in DeKalb County that gave the students a peek at engineering jobs. They also explored Northern Illinois University’s school of engineering.

“I have a rather diverse set of interests,” said Meyer, a 14-year-old freshman at Genoa-Kingston. “I’m just undecided, and I figure I might as well gather enough information about every category, to see what fits.”

Gene Fogle said the consortium has sponsored the tours for students for the past three years. In the fall semester of the school year, the organization offers the Heavy Metal Tour. During the spring semester, students can take part in Assemble Ur Career.

Both events are free to the students. The DeKalb County and Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corporations each contributes to funding the tours, and other money comes from private donations and fundraisers, Fogle said.

“A student typically gets to see teachers, policemen, doctors and that kind of thing,” he said. “They’re not sure what’s available in other places for employment. So we try to expose them to the different businesses. We try to educate them on what puts them on an educational pathway. And then we try to get them employed.”

Students from Sycamore High School visited shredder and grinder manufacturer Cresswood Industries in Cortland, and high-tech storage maker CST in DeKalb. Rochelle students toured Sawicki Motors and Butitta Bros. auto repair center in the town. Students from DeKalb High School got a look at Johnson Controls, a Fortune 500 giant with a
local office in Sycamore, and they visited Dawn Equipment. The company makes agriculture-related equipment. Genoa-Kingston high-schoolers were upclose at Custom Aluminum, an aluminum extruder company in Genoa, and at steel tools manufacturer SK Professional Tools in Sycamore.

Tuesday was the sixth time that Zach Elliott, 17, has gone on a tour. He said he tries to catch the fall and spring events. He comes from a line of engineers that began with his grandfather. The DeKalb High School senior plans to carry on the family tradition when he attends Northern Illinois University in the fall.

“I envision a future of myself in mechanical engineering. I want to be in manufacturing,” he said. “On this trip, we [went] to companies and NIU ... that kind of goes along with what I want to do.”