As a high school senior, Hershey started working as an installer at Clear Picture through the school’s job placement program. After riding along with another more experienced installer for a couple of months, he worked as an installer for about a year, then moved up to technician, then IT technician until April of 2010. After taking some time off for back surgery, he slowly transitioned into the position he holds now.
At Clear Picture, preventative maintenance includes looking through statistics on their system and finding and repairing problems even before the customer notices that something is wrong, Hershey said. The three computer screens allow him to view the entire system at once. He also helps technical support staff with troubleshooting issues, and is assisting in transferring to a new mapping system.
As a high school sophomore, Hershey chose the career center’s telecommunications program because he wanted to be an electrician. While moving through the unique program, the only one of its kind in Ohio according to instructor Richard Grimes, Hershey found he was more interested in working with cable.
“The training at the career center broadened my horizons,” Hershey said. “Mr. Grimes is very hands-on. While the electrical part was fun, the cable was more technical, more challenging. We worked on everything from lines outside to connecting cable inside for phones, Internet and television.
“But there are certain things you can’t learn in the classroom, like how to drill through concrete blocks,” Hershey continued, so Clear Picture gave him more specific training. “Every day is a constant learning experience.”
Now that new technologies are advancing even further, he said, the Clear Picture technicians are learning new ways of connecting their cable to new media technology, including Internet-based televisions and home theater systems.
About six technicians who were graduates of the telecommunications program are currently working full time at Clear Picture, said one of Hershey’s supervisors, Jeremy Lehman. Career center alumni from other programs such as electronics and computer networking and construction technologies also work for Clear Picture.
After completing the telecommunications program at the career center, Hershey deferred his high school diploma so he could take another two-year program, computer networking. The CISCO training he received from instructor Vallie Tew “really helped get me where I am now,” Hershey said.
And, always eager to learn more, Hershey is currently taking classes at Wayne College in the evenings to be a computer information technician in Web design. He enjoys building websites as a hobby.
Clear Picture has been a great employer, Hershey said, as his hours were always set around his school schedule, even when he attended the afternoon computer networking lab classes.
Lehman said that Clear Picture has had very favorable experiences hiring career center students from the telecommunications program, which is now called utilities and alternative energy.
“Most of the students coming in have the basic background for installations,” Lehman said. “We don’t have to spend as much time training them. They know how to put connectors on,” he said, as well as other basic tasks.
Many of the interns have become full time employees. As Clear Picture has grown, the new department of preventative maintenance has developed, and now has more members than the number of technicians out responding to customer calls.
“One thing we have is on-demand service,” said Lehman with pride. “Advanced technology has given us the ability to be more pro-active than ever before, which gives us the ability to find and fix many problems before they actually affect our customer’s service. Clear Picture has a wide service area, including Wooster, Smithville, the Triway area, the Waynedale area, and almost to Creston. It’s about a 40 to 45 minute drive from one end to the other,” he said.
Fiber optic splicing, which is taught in the career center utilities program, “is getting to be the big thing,” Lehman said. A lot of companies are using fiber optic cable for their networks.
Instructor Rich Grimes echoed Lehman’s comments. “Fiber optics is booming,” said Grimes. “There is no other high school that I know of teaching it.”
Job placement is very good in the utilities program, Grimes said. Besides Clear Picture, alumni are working at other cable companies, for city power departments, at electrical companies, underground locating companies, and some are installing fire alarms and security systems.
“Not every kid is made to be a lineman,” Grimes said. The program also teaches residential electric installation, closed circuit television, and now, wind energy. Students run a mini-excavator to dig trenches for cable, splice underground cable, set and climb utility poles, and work from a bucket truck. Inside the lab is another set of utility poles on which the students work.
“There are a lot of different avenues to go into,” said Grimes. The program began in 1993 with a high concentration on analog telephone service and telephone repair, and has changed rapidly with technology.
It moved into a new lab in the technology building in 2006. Inside the lab, the career center carpentry program built a two-story house so students can run residential electric, phones, cable television, burglar and fire alarms and intercom. “It’s great practice, real-world experience,” said Grimes.
Through the years, the program has had non-traditional female students, who do quite well in the program, Grimes said. “They are a little more detail-oriented and sometimes have more patience than the male students.”
It’s not too late to apply for the program for the 2012-13 school year. Contact any Wayne County high school guidance counselor, or call the career center guidance office at 330-669-7020 for more information.
Published: March 20, 2012