At the recent National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Debbi Cox was awarded the Honorary American Degree for her volunteer work on the state level. Not only is she the President of the NH FFA Foundation, she spends time on with the state alumni group, the advisory council and organizing the FFA state convention. Debbi also spends time helping with SkillsUSA NH and is the State Coordinator for Agriculture in the Classroom.
In early December, dozens of school counselors, school board members and administrators attended an Informational Industry Tour at the Seacoast School of Technology (SST) in Exeter. At this event, the focus was on the Restaurant, Hotel and Hospitality Industry, according to Equity Counselor Sharon Spooner.
“Our aim for providing this tour was for school counselors, administrators and anyone working with students to have a better understanding of all the possible career opportunities that exist in this fields,” she said.
Last month, SST provided a bus for counselors and school board members to take a tour of the Automobile Industry.
“We toured two different local dealerships and were introduced to the many different career opportunities that exist in that industry,” she said. “It’s not just the sales people or the technicians, but also in the areas of service, diagnosis, parts, computer technicians and so on–these are all well paying jobs that they need people to fill.”
At The Exeter Inn and Epoch Restaurant & Bar, which is where December’s tour was held, General Manager Thomas DeSisto spoke about the qualities they look for in employees as well as his own story and how his experiences early in life helped shape him.
“Having a chance to educate counselors and others about what we do and the scope of available career paths from entry level to senior management is very exciting,” he said.
Justin York, school counselor at Newmarket High School, said these tours provide him and others with a “behind the scenes look at industries that on the surface may have historically had a reputation as being less-than-glamorous.”
“We get to talk with people who have different roles at these locations, learn about what they do, the paths that brought them there, and how our students can follow a similar path to be successful,” he said.
Noting the group met with DeSisto, the Director of Sales and Catering, and the Head Chef, York said each provided an overview of the different career opportunities available at The Exeter Inn and Epoch Restaurant & Bar and how our students can access careers in the Hospitality industry.
“Growing up in Exeter, I had been to The Exeter Inn a number of times, but it was fun to see some of the areas that are normally ‘off limits’ to guests,” he said. “They really have a first class operation over there, and I think it could be a great fit for some of our students.”
In looking ahead, York said he uses his experiences from these tours to have “more robust discussions” with students about what a career looks like in these industries.
“My hope is that students will begin to understand that there are excellent opportunities for lucrative careers in these industries all around the Seacoast,” he added.
In commenting on the success of December’s tour, DeSisto expressed appreciation at SST’s larger role in the community.
“In a day and age where so much onus is put on higher education, even though the cost of higher education continues to rise, SST provides their students with knowledge and skills that allow them to enter the work force immediately after they graduate–if not before–without the burden of debt that can be crushing at such a young age,” he explained.
He said SST and other Career and Technical Schools serve an even more critical role given the state’s all-time low employment rate.
“Having an influx of hungry entry level workers into the thin applicant pool is great for all local businesses,” he added.