Deer Park Community Advisory Council (DPCAC) members were enlightened at their recent meeting by listening to 20 Deer Park High School students ask DPCAC petrochemical facility managers about their jobs and workplace conditions. Following that, plant managers asked students what it would take to interest them in an industry career and what may hold students back from considering such work. Students from science, math, and career and technology classes submitted more than 300 questions and responses to these questions before the meeting, providing industry with valuable, unfiltered feedback about student views of industry.
Reporting their small group discussion to the full group, students were glad to hear that safety is a top priority; some feared it might not be. They learned that there are many different kinds of jobs in plants, not just operator and engineering jobs but also IT, human resources, finance, and environmental work. They heard that there is a growing number of women in the chemical industry workforce and that women can qualify for any job. Two of the plant managers at the meeting are women.
Students asked plant representatives what sparked their interest in their job and what path took them to the work they do today. They heard that both education and experience are important and that there are opportunities to advance and also to change the kind of work you do. Some were impressed that a job in Deer Park might provide travel opportunities and even a chance to work in another country.
Plant managers said that high school provides an important base to further education. Education will help you get a job that you want but how well you perform is up to you. Whatever job you do, communication skills are key to success.
Students uniformly said they would like more information about plants and the opportunities for work in the petrochemical industry. They suggested presentations, internships, and open houses. DPCAC recommended www.petrochemworks.com as a resource for learning about industry jobs and what it takes to get them. The site will ask you about your interests and skills and then match you with jobs that might interest you. Job openings are also posted on this free resource.