Trades VR training gives career exploration opportunities for students



Mr. Coleman pictured in his office ready for the new school week.

Callie Kreutter, Writer

Owatonna Public Schools is partnering with “Big Ideas out of New Home” to have a “Trades Day” next Wednesday, April 20. “Trades Day” is an opportunity for students to try simulations of many careers. New Home has a simulation trailer with four different areas within it. Three of the four stations have hands-on careers like welding, industrial painting and excavation. The fourth area consists of a VR experience that has an additional 23 careers to explore.

The hope of this is to highlight more careers or trades. Mr. Brian Coleman, Career Pathways Navigator at OHS, said, “It really was kind of brought together with the idea that those careers aren’t really highlighted a lot. We wanted to make sure that students who were interested in those careers knew that they were just as valuable.” Lots of teenagers do not know what they want to do after high school and this career exploration day is one way to help narrow that down. 

After graduating high school, many people go to college and end up switching majors multiple times or dropping out due to not knowing what they want to do in life or what they are passionate about. According to the Education Data Initiative, 40 percent of college students drop out. FAFSA says that 80% of students change their college major. Coleman said, “The whole idea around this is to bring as many different careers and get students out to explore as many things as possible.” 

OHS is attempting to bring multiple career options and experiences to help make that decision easier and hopefully help students be fully sure about their future. Along with the simulation trailer, nine employers will be available for students to talk about how trades are used in their careers. Students will also learn about more opportunities from these employers. 

OHS also did a walking tour in downtown Owatonna to see all the different businesses and observe what they do on a day-to-day basis. Coleman said, ”You drive past those buildings every day, but maybe you don’t have an idea of what they do…It’s like, whoa, I didn’t know that all of this took place in one spot and that these career opportunities were anything from marketing to sales to editing and publishing. All of that stuff is right here, locally, and that’s why I’m here to help students get those experiences and set them up.” Mr. Coleman has prioritized coming up with days like these to give students new opportunities and help them as much as he can. 

One example of someone who has benefited from Owatonna Career Pathways is sophomore Adrian Trevino. Trevino is looking to go to a 4-year school for construction management. Some people chose to go straight into the workforce for construction and others take the two or four year route. Coleman said, “So what I’m here to do is just help students understand what their options are and let them make the best decision for themselves.” Coleman encouraged Trevino to sign up for trades day to learn more about what he’s interested in along with different college options. Trevino said, “I like doing more hands-on things but seeing construction management was also an option going into the construction. I liked that better, my step dad is a project manager in a construction company out in Faribault and sometimes I go out there and help them and see what he does.” Trevino is just one of the 150-200+ students Mr. Coleman and Owatonna Career Pathways have been able to help find more opportunities for their career interest. 

The simulation trailer experience will take place Wednesday, April 20 at Roosevelt School. This is a compass day for OHS students.  Students can sign up for time slots by emailing Mr. Coleman or visiting is office. Each time slot will be about an hour long so everyone can experience all four sections along with having time to talk to employers. Students can contact Mr. Coleman at [email protected] with any questions.