EAST GULL LAKE - Many career paths may sound good on paper. But a description on paper may not be as useful as directly asking workers about their jobs.
On Tuesday, 1,500 high school students had a chance to find out what jobs are really like.
Students from about 22 regional school districts descended on the Sport Centre at Cragun's Resort where the tennis courts were covered with booths and about 250 volunteers and career representatives.
Students from about 22 regional school districts toured the displays Tuesday at the Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection Career Exploration Day at Cragun's Resort in East Gull Lake. About 1,500 students attended the career exploration event. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
High school sophomores, juniors and seniors were able to ask the gritty details of what life is like on the job, what education or training they need, how much they can expect to earn and what occupations are in demand.
Career Exploration Day is part of the Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection, which is a joint venture between businesses and educators designed to give students a greater understanding of career options and hands-on knowledge about those jobs. Students were able to do more than look at information. They asked questions of career representatives and had interactive opportunities that included options to see what it's like to be radio announcers, carpenters or mechanical technicians.
Careers were clustered into six fields - business, management and administration; agriculture, food and natural resources; arts, communication and information systems; engineering, manufacturing and technology; health science technology; and human services such as law enforcement, counseling, government and education.
Within the clusters, students could speak to such diverse job holders as an air traffic control operator, architect, biologist, chef, combat engineer, dietitian, event planner, fiber splicing technician, florist, golf pro, graphic designer, pharmacist, tool maker, welder, wheel vehicle mechanic and wildland firefighter, among at least 130 occupations. Other exhibitors offered information on training, schools and business development.
Mitchell Norwood (left), Jack Jewison and Samantha Salber of Browerville handled an M-16 rifle in the Army and Army Reserve career booth. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Bridges Career Academies focuses on a series of courses for careers, which begin in high school and are taken for dual high school and college credit, the organization reported. The Brainerd Lakes Chamber coordinates the Workplace Connection, featuring job shadowing, internships and Career Exploration Day.
Rebecca Best, CLC dean of educational services, said 1,415 college credits were earned by students in five school districts through Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection's first academic school year in 2007-2008. Best said that amounted to a college tuition savings of more than $200,000. Program courses were expanded for 2008-2009.
Three Crosby-Ironton High School seniors - Ryan Donovan, Sam Stanfield and Hanna Christenson - were among those attending career day. Each took courses for college credit at their high school and talked about the overall program and how it affected their career plans. Donovan cited a health care occupations class.
"I think that for me had the greatest benefit because I want to go into the medical field and you got to see all the different aspects of what you could go into and we saw things such as surgery and radiology and went all over the hospital. ... I think that definitely made a difference for me and definitely pushed me to go into the medical field."
Donovan plans to be an orthopedic surgeon.
Stanfield also plans to go into the medical field. She said job shadowing helped weed out jobs she thought she'd like and highlight ones she may not have considered. Stanfield said with the college classes she's taken in high school she'll be able to start college as a sophomore.
"That's just a huge savings," she said of college tuition costs.
Josh Chan, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, cleared the airway on a human simulator mannequin while students watched Tuesday at the career fair. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Christenson gained an interest in the dietary field. She said the job shadowing and information on careers assisted her plans.
"It really showed me a lot of things I didn't want to do, which is also important," Christenson said.
Tuesday, students were able to continue that exploration. Jeff Wig, chairman of Career Exploration Day and CLC dean of enrollment management, said months of planning went into the event. Lisa Paxton, Brainerd Lakes Chamber chief executive officer, said all the programs build upon each other to help students narrow down career choices so they have a better idea of what they want to do before they spend time and money on education and training.
Kevin Thesing, job shadow chairman, said the next steps include group job shadowing to take students into the workplace for an even greater idea of what the job is really like.
"It's just a pleasure and a treat to see this," said Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd. "It's so important for our future generation."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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