Question: What do you get when you combine 121 high school juniors and 56 local employers for the day?
Answer: In Kenai, it adds up to the annual Job Shadow Day, an opportunity for students to experience a day in the work force in a career field they might like to pursue.
Wednesday marked a milestone for the program as it was the 20th year that the school and business community have come together to give future employees a taste of the daily grind. Students were matched with businesses and agencies in a wide range of disciplines, from the oil field and support industry to health care to law enforcement — even journalism was an option for participating students.
While the experience was just half a day on the job, students had the chance to learn about the education and training needed to land a job in their chosen field. And with a taste of an actual work day, they might also have found that they might want to consider a different career. Either way, the opportunity can be a valuable experience.
Students also were introduced to some important skills for job seekers — namely, filling out a job application and writing a good cover letter and resume. When it comes time to apply for that first job, that might be the most important experience to take away from the day.
Organizing the event is a massive undertaking. Pulling it off involves collaboration between the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, Kenai Central High School and the Peninsula Job Center. Also impressive is the number of businesses willing to participate. While there are certainly some careers that have yet to find their way to the Peninsula, there is still a diverse business community here. Job Shadow Day wouldn’t work if just a few of them were willing to participate.
Beyond some good career advice, Job Shadow Day has another significant impact in enhancing the relationship between the community and the school. As much as we hope for a positive experience for students, we hope their job shadow hosts were left with a positive impression, too. After all, in just a few short years, those students will be entering the work force, and looking for employment with some of the same businesses that were involved in Wednesday’s event.
A big thank you is in order for making Job Shadow Day such a long running success. When dedicated organizers, enthusiastic students and willing participants from the business community all come together, it’s a winning situation for everyone involved.