Editor’s note: Mara Youngren-Brown, Caleigh Jensen and Avery Hieber spent Wednesday in the Clarion newsroom as part of Kenai Central High School’s Job Shadow Day program.
Wednesday was a unique day for Kenai Central High School students; instead of the usual six hours of class work, more than 100 junior students participated in Job Shadow.
The program provides the opportunity for students to receive on-the-job experiences in their local community. From law enforcement to journalism, students got a chance to network with potential employers and career choices.
This program is one-of-a-kind, said Kenai Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Operating Officer Johnna Beech, and Kenai Central High School is the only high school that offers it. Job Shadow is a successful program because students either love the experience or realize that the career is not fitting for them, helping them make crucial decisions about college and their future.
As a part of preparations for Job Shadow day, students used a program called AKCIS to research careers they were interested in. After narrowing the selection down to three possible occupations, juniors examined many aspects of the career, such as employment outlook, wages, and working conditions. Students then rated each category based on their personal preferences.
Finally, they chose their top occupation and learned how to write a cover letter, resume and properly fill out a job application. The four months of constant writing, editing, and revising resulted in well-prepared students and successful experiences for all involved.
Beech is in her fifth year of helping to facilitate the program, now in its 22nd year.
She said Job Shadow is an “incredible opportunity” and that it really shows how involved the community is with local youth.
“This program is very important to our community because it shows high school juniors that there are many diverse opportunities in Alaska,” Beech said.
This year, 122 students are participating in Job Shadow, along with around 35 local businesses. The process and planning of Job Shadow usually starts with an initial meeting in September. Overall, the whole process from start to finish usually amounts to five months.
Job Shadow is very beneficial for kids and business, as it helps establish connections between possible employers and employees, Beech said. Many students have received jobs or internships as a direct result of the program. The businesses benefit from this program because it gives them a chance to help younger generations of fresh new talent look toward local businesses as possible places of employment.
Beech said the program receives positive feedback from the businesses involved, as they are impressed by the students’ cover letters and resumes. Even after 22 years of Job Shadow, the Chamber of Commerce is always looking for new businesses to be involved in this program.
The businesses that are involved are catered toward the interests of the students, but new businesses are always welcome, Beech said.
“This amazing program would not be possible without the community’s collective effort to make this happen,” Beech said.
Dr. Jim Delker at Twin City Veterinarian Clinic hosted two students from Kenai Central High School as part of Job Shadow. This is Delker’s fifth year participating as a host in the program. He said this is a very good opportunity for students to learn about local job opportunities.
Job Shadow concluded Wednesday with a luncheon for all participants, with presentations from two Kenai Central graduates — Kelly Gifford, who graduated in 1980, and Stephanie Queen, who graduated in 2000.