As it has for the past several years, the South-Western Career Academy held its What's Your Plan Day for seniors as part of an effort to prepare students for life after high school.

But where previous programs focused solely on the college application process, this year's program, held Oct. 18, was expanded to offer an opportunity to work on resumes and learn resume-building skills.

"What's Your Plan Day is our version of the national College Application Day," said Kelsey Hodge, who serves with Gretchen Turner as the career academy's guidance counselors.

College Application Day is an annual event where schools provide assistance to students with the process, Hodge said.

Schools schedule their events on different days, but the program is held during the fall, ahead of spring deadlines.

"Many of our students who are involved in technical education will be leaving us with the certification that will allow them to go into the workforce immediately after graduation," Hodge said.

About 190 career academy seniors participated in What's Your Plan Day, she said.

The students could choose to participate in either the college application or resume events.

In the library, Turner and college admissions counselors from Central Ohio Technical College and Otterbein University assisted students as they worked on college and scholarship applications or their Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms.

For the resume event, Hodge and representatives from Dawson Recruiting and Employment Agency were on hand to help students.

"The goal is that by the end of the day they will have made a big dent in their Naviance resume folder," Hodge said.

Naviance is a college and career readiness website South-Western students use.

"One of the things the students (were) working on (Oct. 18) was inputting information about themselves and getting a start on building their resumes," Hodge said. "They can continue to work on it and add to it or revise it and it will be there for them to access whenever they need it in the future."

The school counselors created a resume-writing worksheet for use in brainstorming ideas for resumes and the students then placed the information in their preferred resume format.

"A common problem students have is, if they don't have a lot of work experience, not being sure what kind of volunteer or extracurricular activities or awards and recognitions are useful to include on a resume," Hodge said.

"One of the hardest things for students to do is to write about themselves," she said.

"Just knowing how to begin the resume-writing process is challenging, and we're here to help them with that," said Bernedette Henry, a senior recruiter in Dawson's office/call center division.

Henry was one of three Dawson representatives assisting students.

"Students can have a hard time figuring out how to describe the responsibilities they do on a day-to-day basis" in their jobs or in their chosen career academy program, Henry said.

Many students don't realize what language or terminology they should be using on a resume, she said.

"For example, instead of saying your duties included 'cleaning the restaurant,' we suggest they describe it as 'creating a healthy environment and a positive public image for the restaurant,' " Henry said.

"There are some techniques you need to learn to create a good resume," she said.

Grace Furrow, a senior in the career academy's cosmetology program, said she found the session helpful.

"It will be a big help for me as I try to find a job after school," she said. "I'm learning more about the kind of information I should be including on my resume."

"Building up our resumes will help us get the job we really want," said Elijah Butsko, a senior in the automotive technologies program.

"I'm really glad we have the chance to learn more about how to do a resume," he said. "I wish I could have gone through something like this even earlier."

"It's been really helpful preparing us for what we'll need to do to find a job," said Mickey Ven, a senior in the automotive technologies program. "It's never too early to start working on your resume."

"What we want our students to be doing is moving toward being employed, enrolled or enlisted after they graduate," Hodge said.

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