Students, employers benefit from events like Job Shadow Day

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2004

Older Alaskans worry about younger Alaskans seeking their fame, fortune and future some place other than here. They agonize about ways to stop exporting "our future" and "our greatest natural resource" our children, in other words to other places when Alaska could use their expertise. They also talk about students not having the basic skills needed to enter the world of work and having unrealistic expectations about what that world entails.

All those reasons and more highlight the importance of such activities as Kenai's Job Shadow Day, a collaborative effort that involves Kenai Central High School, the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, the Peninsula Job Center and businesses throughout the central peninsula. On Wednesday 55 businesses hosted 138 juniors from KCHS to get a taste of life in a job the students had expressed an interest in.

From all accounts, it was a rousing success. Students sampled a day in the life of a firefighter, police office, teacher, nurse, psychologist, journalist among many other professions. They got a feel for the working environment. They had some of their questions answered about different jobs. And some went away with a clearer idea of the kind of career they might one day want to pursue.

The students, however, aren't the only ones on the receiving end of Job Shadow Day. It's a great opportunity for employers to coach potential employees on qualities they look for when they hire, to let students know how to increase their chances of getting hired in a certain field, to plant the seed that they may be able to find enjoyable, rewarding work in the place they grew up, to pitch their business as such a place. Job Shadow Day reminds us of University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton's words during a Kenai chamber luncheon last May: "Never underestimate the power of telling someone you want them." Job Shadow Day offers that opportunity.

The Peninsula Clarion was fortunate to host four of the students two who were interested in writing and two who were interested in photography. Their final assignment before being returned to school was to write down why Job Shadow Day is important and to report on one thing they learned. Their words tell far better than ours could about why businesses in the community need to be involved in this activity.

Why job shadowing is important:

From Christina Edelen: Job shadow is important because it gives students an opportunity to further research a career and to spend the day with professionals in the field.

From Micah Lillard: Job shadow is important to show students exactly what happens at a specific job. It teaches students exactly what to expect and not just the basics of any job.

From Kira Matiya: The entire process of job shadowing was especially important for me because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Working on my resume, cover letter and job opportunities helped me narrow down the many different jobs. Using Job Shadow Day to explore one of the careers I found interesting, I found that this is more of what I want to do than I realized. Now I see that this is a career that I am truly interested in. Job Shadow Day is important because it shows you the good and the bad, the atmosphere, how everyone works together and what you can accomplish as a team. Using this, you know if the career is right for you. Extra knowledge is always important, to try new things and experience more.

From Sascha Pearce: I think job shadowing is important because it gives you a real feel of what it's like to do and take part in the job you plan on doing in your future. Sometimes things aren't what you expect, and I believe it's very important to understand what you may be getting into.

One thing learned:

From Christina Edelen: I learned that there is no such things as a normal day or schedule for a photojournalist.

From Micah Lillard: I learned how composition of a paper is set up, what the day of a reporter is like and exactly how reporters work with other people at a newspaper to produce the best paper possible.

From Kira Matiya: You learn about the career, the good and the bad, and it gives you time to think if it is the right career for you. ... You meet people, experience new things and learn a lot about your chosen profession. I personally learned that I want to be a photojournalist, and I want to work in a newspaper or magazine. I didn't know that before.

From Sascha Pearce: I learned how important it is to be a part of teamwork. Having good communication and people skills is a good thing for any job you might choose.

Sounds like a good day's work to us.

Hats off to all who made it possible.

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