Ridgewood High School job fair offers look at career options
Derek Kiefer, a representative of the Universal Technical Institute, speaks with students at the Ridgewood High School career fair. | Ari Neiditz ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:34AM
NORRIDGE — As high school graduation approaches, many students ask an obvious question: What now?
Helping students explore those options was the point at Ridgewood High School’s second career fair.
Representatives from about 40 companies and educational institutions set up shop Feb. 22 in the gymnasium of the school that serves residents of Norridge and Harwood Heights.
This time around, the fair incorporated suggestions gleaned from last year’s participants, explained Jim Gyori, school counselor and fair coordinator.
Those initiatives included offering breakout presentations and also supplying students with a list of relevant questions to ask.
There were three breakout sessions. One addressed employment prospects in general, to give students ideas as to what careers are in demand. Another focused on opportunities in manufacturing. The third looked at job prospects in the health care field.
“We wanted to hit a variety of options,” Gyori said, “and this was garnered from the feedback we received on ways to improve the career fair.”
Student Gerardo Huerta of Harwood Heights said his conversation with Rey Diaz, admissions counselor with Southern Illinois University, provided some insight.
“I’m thinking about going into engineering,” Huerta said. “SIU has a specific residence just for engineering students.”
That little perk could be a factor in his choice of colleges, he noted.
Alexis Sabor of Norridge was a little taken aback by the American Cancer Society/Relay for Life pamphlets.
“They were pretty graphic,” she said of one describing the effects of smoking. “But they made an impression.”
Kristina Lazzara of Norridge said she was considering a career in architecture.
Offering free pizza didn’t hurt Nuccio D’Argento, co-owner of Vince’s Restaurant in Harwood Heights — and a Ridgewood alum.
“I want kids to know the importance of math and science, no matter what business you go into,” he said.
Math plays a role in business every day — from ordering supplies to doing payroll, he said.
“Scientists might not agree, but science plays a role in cooking when you’re combining ingredients,” he added.
Also returning to his alma mater was pharmacist Mike Russo.
“I wanted to come to start a little fire under the kids,” he said, explaining many students never even consider a pharmaceutical career.
“But just about everyone, sooner or later, takes some kind of medication,” he noted.
He also enjoyed returning to his old stomping grounds.
“There’s something about the area,” he said. “I’ve come full circle.”
After living farther away, Russo recently returned to Norridge.
“A lot is different,” he said, “but a lot still feels the same.”