C4 board explores internships for students
By Kelby Newcomb
The Connect 4 Board is hoping to have jobs lined up for students when they graduate from the program.
C4 director James Knight told the board at its Wednesday meeting that the program is working with companies in the area to develop internship positions for students.
“Our objective is to try to get with every business and industry partner and try to bring them on board,” he said. “We want to try to get a home for some of our seniors to go to. Tyson Foods is already in the works to set up some internships because they want some of our students.”
Knight said he is excited about the internships.
“I think this is what needs to happen,” he said. “Junior and senior year you’re going through these classes, and at the end of the road there should be a job there for you to land at. We need to get a variety of jobs so that all our students can take a good look, see what’s out there, make a decision and get going in life.”
Knight said the Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation visited the Carroll County Career Center recently and held mock interviews for the students.
“I think overall it was a really good exercise,” he said. “Some of the students realized they’re going to have to take it more seriously. I think it was a success. It was a real eye-opener. I want to set up some more mock interviews before the end of the semester. Hopefully for round two we’ll have a little more improvement.”
C4 administrative assistant and board secretary Jennifer Winkle updated the board on the ABB Robot, which she said is scheduled to be delivered the first week of March.
Board member Bud Phillips asked if the students will be using the robot to learn how to perform maintenance on one. Knight said the students will be learning how to operate it and do preventative maintenance on it.
“From what I’ve gathered talking with them, they’ve got a lot of different ABB Robots in production at Tyson,” Knight said. “They’re going to need a tech to get out there and service it. A maintenance guy will perform a few tests to try to isolate what the problem is, and, if it’s in his scope, he can make the repair. If it’s something more intense, a representative from their factory will have to come make the repair.”
He said the students will also be starting OSHA-10 training the first week of March.
“We’ve got all the seats we need to do the training, and Jennifer has all the students enrolled,” Knight said. “We plan to do it the first week of March. We’ll do it as a class. It will take 10 hours, and we should have plenty of time to get it done.”
He said they should be able to complete the training in one week and maybe a couple of days the following week.
“Everybody that we’ve talked to that has come in and talked to the students has emphasized safety,” Knight said. “Any kind of safety training they can get makes them look better on their application.”
Green Forest Superintendent Matt Summers asked how many certifications the seniors will be leaving the program with since they will have been in the program for only one year.
“I’m thinking four,” Knight said. “They’ll have the common core, the Industrial Maintenance Level I and OSHA-10. We’re going to get Welding I, and depending on ability they’ll be able to try for an American Welding Society (AWS) workforce certification.”
“So that’s potentially five in one year,” Summers said. “That’s pretty good.”
“It’s been a whirlwind getting started,” Knight said. “We’re trying to pull as much into it as we can. As the years go on, we’re going to have a more solid foundation and a much better direction.”
Summers also asked about having tours of the career center for middle school students.
“In middle school, kids who are associated with band, choir or athletics — they do well,” he said. “Kids who aren’t attached struggle. If we can flip that switch for a sixth-grader who comes in and sees this, then that kid just got attached. That was my thinking. I believe the sooner we can bring them in the better.”
“I say ‘yes.’ I’m about pulling anybody in here for a tour of the facility,” Knight said.
Phillips said seeing the older students at work also could inspire middle schoolers to pursue the program. Chris Claybaker, economic development director for Berryville, said that would help create sustainability for the program as well.
Claybaker mentioned that North Arkansas College (NAC) is interested in developing a relationship with the C4 program.
Phillips voiced concern on the prospect, advising the board be careful about bringing new partners on board.
“There’s a reason that we started this program,” he said. “The reason was at the time we didn’t feel like there were places that filled our needs. I get really concerned because I don’t want to see this sucked into some other program in 10 years and get right back to the reason we started this.”
Claybaker said he believes it is worth talking to prospective partners like NAC to see what they can offer the students.
“Some of the value is what NAC brings,” he said. “Students could leave our program not only having 20 certificates but also 12 hours of college credit.”
Claybaker said they should meet with representatives to discuss the ideas.