By Tim Leeds
Students from Havre are being taught about jobs and the workplace. Not at the schools, but on the job sites.
Job Shadow is one of the components of the School to Career program at Havre High School. Some 87 students have gone to see how businesses operate and what jobs entail since the shadowing began three years ago.
Interested students fill out an application at the School to Career office at the high school. They submit three careers they would be interested in shadowing.
Tamara Johnson, the coordinator for the program, then searches for a professional in the area that will spend time with the student. Once a business partner is found for the student, the parent or guardian is notified and a contract is signed by them and the student. The contract is then sent to the business partner.
The student spends two to eight hours at the Job Shadow. The professional's responsibility is to inform the student about the various components of the job. Johnson said they tell the student what the benefits, the stressors, the disadvantages, necessary schooling, the effect on family life, and more are about the job shadowed.
"Each professional is to give the students what I call the Whitman's Sampler,'" Johnson said. "It is information that the student can use to begin to determine a career path.
"I do ask professionals to not give the white picket fence and flowers' version of their profession. Every job comes with its downside. Knowing that going into a career can help a student to look for coping mechanisms they will need in order to reduce job stress."
Students are required to complete paper work to help them think about and understand the Job Shadow Experience. The business partner also completes paperwork about the shadow.
The students are also required to send a thank you card to the professional they worked with. This helps students to focus on the communication skills needed in our network based society.
The School To Career program encourages students to use the Job Shadow experience on their resumes or college applications in the future.
There has been a lot of success with the relatively new program already. Gary Osborne, who graduated from Havre High in January, Job Shadowed at the KRTV and KFBB television stations in Great Falls in November. When his mother, Ellen Osborne, was dropping off his thank you notes representatives of KRTV asked her why he hadn't sent them demo tapes and an application yet. They hired him effective February 23.
Dr. Paul McCann and Dr. Lisa Ritchey of Bear Paw Veterinary Service hold the record for the number of students that have Job Shadowed at their business. They have had seven students this year alone.
Craig Ellingson, fire chief at the Havre Fire Department, has also had shadows at the station. He said six or seven students have been there, with some interested in the EMT side and some interested in the firefighting side.
"They've all been excellent," he said, "very intelligent, courteous; showed a lot of respect."
Ellingson said the Job Shadow program definitely helps the students. He said the experience helps the student understand the job, and will help them get jobs when they apply for them.
He said he supports the idea of showing students jobs in Havre. He said he would like to hire local people and keep them in the community.
Joel Dupree said his shadow at the fire department convinced him that that job is a good choice for him. He said he learned about what goes on there in a day, and really enjoyed it.
John Szudera also shadowed at the fire department. He said he's looking into a career in the medical field, and what he learned about the EMT work at the station has given him more information about his career options.
"(Job Shadow is) a good program," he said. "It's beneficial to a lot of people."
Many other business partners in Havre have done the Job Shadow program. They include Anne Fladager of Elite Styling & Tanning Salon, Triangle Telephone, the Bureau of Land Management, area attorney Jim Kaze, and teacher Jacki Kannberg.
Thea Maristuen, a senior at HHS, and daughter of Chris and Keith Maristuen, came to the School to Career (STC) office requesting information on being an exotic animal veterinarian.
"You know lions and tigers and bears,'" Johnson said.
Maristuen was asked to bring in the phone numbers for zoos around the country. She brought Johnson 29 phone numbers. It took 17 phone calls before Johnson reached a zoo that was willing to speak to a student.
Maristuen then Job Shadowed by phone to Dr. Holly Reid of Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Wash. A few of months later, Maristuen told Johnson that her family would be traveling to Washington and she would like to meet with Dr. Reid if possible.
After a few phone calls the Job Shadow was set up. Since the zoo was closed that day Dr. Reid unlocked the zoo and took Thea on rounds with her.
Jen Vaughn, a HHS senior, spent two days at the National Weather Service in Great Falls. She said the original plan was for one day, but the NWS told her they wanted it for two. Vaughn said she hopes to become a meteorologist.
She said she forecast the weather for Havre during the shadow, wrote TAFS for high altitude aviation purposes, flew the weather balloon and sat in on workshops for the local radio stations.
Vaughn said the information helped her decide on a career in meteorology. She said the nearest schools she could go to are in North and South Dakota, and are very expensive. She said she needed to know she wanted this career before she went.
"It was a really neat opportunity," she said. "When I came back I really knew I wanted to do this."
Jayson Nissen, a junior at Havre High and son of Charles Nissen and Amy Booker, is interested in pursing a career in aeronautical engineering. He Job Shadowed on the phone with Dr. Thomas Zang of NASA Langely Research Center in Hampton, Va.
Johnson said they are now working on setting up a program to have electronic mentors, where suitable professionals could work with Job Shadow students over the Internet. She said this could give more opportunities to people like Nissen, for careers where there are no local professionals.