Job shadow day: Nurturing our future

Posted: Friday, March 04, 2011

Unless you were actually participating directly, you may not have been aware of one of Kenai's more massive events earlier this week.

On Tuesday morning, 125 juniors from Kenai Central High School were matched up with representatives from 57 local businesses in the Chamber of Commerce's annual Job Shadow Day partnership with the school. The event is one of the most extensive of its kind.

As the name implies, students "shadow" professionals for a morning. The whole idea is to give these young men and women a glimpse of the working world. For a few hours they got a sneak peek into professions they are interested in pursuing, or at least think they're interested in pursuing.

And that's part of what these professionals provided these young folks on Tuesday - candid, honest counseling about what their jobs are really like, what kinds of education they require, what kinds of rewards they offer and, in some cases, what kinds of sacrifices they demand.

The professionals included doctors, lawyers, public officials, public utility workers, folks from the oil engineering industries, service industries, aviation, police and emergency professionals, non-profit organizations, college folks, the media.

In addition to them, another dozen businesses supported the effort by providing products or services to support the overall effort.

We think the whole event is great. It's great that so many teens want to participate, and it's great that so many professionals and businesses want to take part. Whether any of these students eventually enter the profession they shadowed or not, they know that the adults who hosted them for a few hours Tuesday morning cared enough to help them learn something.

Still, the whole Job Shadow event is akin to setting up school field trips for 125 kids at nearly 60 different locations at the same time. The thought of doing that, not to mention doing it year after year, intimidates us just thinking about it.

But you couldn't tell that to chamber Executive Director Carol Bannock.

"You can't not do it," she said. "This program is just too valuable."

In short: Job Shadow Day is a worthy way of telling our youth we care about their future.

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