On Wednesday, Kenai Central high School Juniors got to answer the question they’ve been asked since they were children during their job shadow program, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The job shadow event has been going on for 24 years, according to Johna Beech, president of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce.
This year, 113 students have been partnered with 30 businesses and jobs, helping spread awareness of what jobs are available and what they are all about.
Beech said that many high school students, once they graduate, leave to go out of state because they think they can’t get their dream job here.
“One of the biggest reasons Job Shadow is important is it gives students the chance to learn that Kenai is a place where you can get a job and raise a family,” Beech said.
The job shadow program helps show the students available jobs and makes the businesses aware of the future of the world and the next generation’s role in it, she said.
Meredith McCullough, an english teacher at Kenai Central High School, has been helping Juniors for seven years prepare for job shadow.
“Job shadow is a collaboration between Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Alaska Job Center to set up students on work experiences to help give an idea on their ideal fields of work.” said McCullough.
Each student is sent out with a host from their respective interests and spends a day learning about the job.
At The Flats Bitstro on Kalifornsky Beach Road, the owner of the restaurant, Luke Thibodeau, showed Kenai Central High School students Clayton Koroll and Peter Anderson the inner workings of his restaurant and the keys to owning and managing a small business.
Both Koroll and Anderson have dreams to open small restaurants.
Anderson said he wanted to open a bar or pub one day, to “have fun and be successful.”
Koroll, like Thibodeau, said that he just wants the satisfaction of “making people happy.”
Thibodeau shared his thoughts with Anderson and Koroll, that owning a restaurant is about serving people “good food and good service.”
Juniors Hannah Olson and Natalia O’Toole shadowed Dr. Todd Wortham and Kylie Zeyer on their paths towards dentistry.
Zeyer is a dental hygienist at Denali Family Dentistry in Kenai. A hygienist restores the functionality of teeth by removing plaque or disease, a position that is usually the entry point of dentistry.
Olson wants to become a licensed dentist, like Dr. Wortham.
Wortham takes pride within his job, and especially focuses on the technological aspects of new dentistry. An example is a camera that scans the teeth and can create filaments from 3D printing.
Just like Wortham, Olson and O’Toole share a passion for the idea of dentistry. Job shadow has provided them with them with various skills and necessary ideas on how to proceed forward to go after their career, they said.
Both, if a change doesn’t happen to make all dentistry at least a bachelor’s degree, need to at least get an associate’s degree to enter as a hygienist like Zeyer, who’s on her way to a master’s degree, Zeyer said, giving the two students an idea of what they need to study if they want to pursue dentistry, and their experience gives them an idea of what the job they want is.
Job shadow gives Juniors a chance to experience what jobs they are interested in are like. From becoming a small restaurant owner to a dentist, students are shown what the technical parts of the jobs they want are. They also are told the paths of how to achieve their jobs, which sets up for their future goals, if they chose to continue pursuing the job.
Delbrian Parfitt and Maria Salzetti are students at Kenai Central High School who visited with Clarion reporter Kat Sorensen for their job shadow. Kat Sorensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org