A rising senior at North Lenoir High School, Luke Jernigan isn’t sure what he’ll do after graduation; but, building on the skills he’s developing in Career and Technical Education courses, he’s leaning toward finding a good-paying job. The time he spent Thursday at Crown Equipment in Kinston might help him sort through his preferences.
Luke was among a group of 37 juniors and seniors from North Lenoir and South Lenoir high schools who got an inside look at one of 22 local businesses, agencies and institutions during an LCPS-sponsored job shadowing event. It was the last – and the largest – of eight such off-campus learning opportunities this school year that have given hundreds of CTE students a chance to get better acquainted with occupations in which they’re interested.
For Luke, that likely means working with tools, working with his hands – particularly welding, he said, which he’s been introduced to through automotive mechanics and agriculture mechanics classes at North Lenoir. During his morning at Crown, which manufactures forklifts and material handling equipment, he and his escort, Greg Edmonds, spent time on the line with Charles Turner, a welder.
“Crown participates in the job shadowing because we feel like it’s very important for students to understand manufacturing and the career opportunities that are available to each and every person in the community,” plant human resources manager Rose Mary Jones said. “This is basically an opportunity for them to get a view of the jobs that are available and hopefully help them develop their career path.”
In signing up for a job-shadowing event, students get to choose which of the partnering businesses they would like to visit.
“I give them a list of over 70 businesses that are participants and generally list the employment opportunities within the businesses,” Jessica Shimer, CTE coordinator for the school district, said. “They choose from that list – a business that matches the careers they’re considering – and their choice is often related to what they’re studying.”
Thursday’s choices included three veterinary clinics, a dentist office, the local hospital, a range of retail businesses (from pharmacies to cosmetologists), an elementary school, the community college, a physician’s office, the city police department and engine repair operations.
Visiting a plant like Crown, a long-time partner in the school district’s job shadowing program, opens students’ eyes to manufacturing methods revolutionized by technology, to the variety of occupations contained in a single plant and to the kind of wages and benefits that can turn jobs into careers.
In Kinston for more than 25 years, the Crown Equipment plant employs 350 workers. Worldwide, Crown employs about 15,000 people, from engineers to welders to painters to laser technicians.
“These job shadowing events are so important because they give students an opportunity to see what’s available in the community,” Crown’s Jones said. “There are fantastic jobs here, and we really like to keep our talent local.”