Alaska Job Corps Students See Future Careers on Groundhog Job Shadow Day
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Alaska Job Corps Students See Future Careers on Groundhog Job Shadow Day

There is nothing better than visualizing possibilities for one’s future.   This is especially true if you are about to launch into the professional career pool—like Alaska Job Corps students.  Over the last weeks, students have been fully participating in the annual February rite of the National Groundhog Job Shadow event.This is when all students are given the opportunity to go out into businesses and the community and participate in job shadowing.

“There is nothing really like this,” said a student in the Carpentry trade.  “We got to visit a working truss plant.  And now I know where I want to work.”   His comments are echoed by his roommate who is in the Electrical trade.  “We shadowed at a 42 unit complex where they’re installing complex residential wiring.  It was so cool.”  It is this kind of invigorating “on the ground” observations which inspire students to complete their career training.

“It whets their appetite,” says Center Director Smith.  “They can really see themselves successfully working.  And that’s why we want every single student to participate.”

The venues were many:   Spenard Builders Truss Plant, Pitcher Electric, City of Palmer, Eagle River Water Plant, Knik Tribal Corporation, Mat Su Regional Hospital, Mat Su Community College, University of Alaska, TSA, Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Airlines Center, Anchorage Pioneer Home, and Providence Extended Care were the major destinations for job shadowing.  Other smaller sites are daily workable locations where students individually train and job shadow in the work environment.

Alaska Job Corps’ Water Wastewater students toured and worked with the Municipality of Anchorage’s employees at the Eagle River plant.  A young operator/employee came directly up to the group of students and said, “Thanks for coming and thanks for training me.”  The students looked at him quizzically and he explained, “Years ago, in 2010, I was trained at your Job Corps.  There’s no way I could have had this amazing job without that training.”  It was a heartfelt and unexpected testimonial and all the students and staff could see the gratitude and authenticity in Job Corps’ alumni Abel Suralta’s eyes.

Accounting Instructor Edna DeVries watched her students slowly acclimate at Anchorage’s large and spread out  University of Alaska campus.  “This is a frightening experience for some and the entire idea of advanced education is something they have never considered.”  She continues, “But this opportunity helps take away the fear. It opens an option.  It reinforces the possibility.”  Quite a few students told her later that they were actually considering expanding their future choices and horizons.

The Alaska Job Corps Program is part of the Department of Labor’s national program and is operated by Chugach Education Services.

Written for Job Corps by Barbara Hunt

Photo credit:  Mark Cruthers

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