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Dave Olson, Published April 08 2014

Me and my job shadow: Workplace visits help students glimpse future

WEST FARGO – Cole Bachmeier says job shadow events have helped him whittle his future career choices down to two fields: chemical engineering or finance.

On Tuesday, the West Fargo High School senior participated in another job shadow, this time at the offices of Bobcat in West Fargo.

“I’m a senior, so it’s kind of getting to be crunch time,” Bachmeier said.

“I hope this (job shadow) will settle a few things for me,” he said. “If not, I’ll learn a little bit about the workforce and what opportunities are out there.”

Bachmeier participated in Tuesday’s event with other students as part of a marketing class taught by Sheila Larson.

Job shadowing can be valuable to students deciding among career paths, but it can also benefit those who have no idea what they might pursue in the future, Larson said.

“It’s helpful for them to start hearing the lingo of what a benefits package is, how the interview process goes, what kind of degrees companies are looking for,” she said, adding that after a job shadow event at AT&T, one of her students was offered a part-time job that could last the student through their college career.

Tuesday’s event at Bobcat was coordinated by Junior Achievement of Fargo-Moorhead, a nonprofit organization that works to educate students in grades K-12 on things such as financial literacy, college and career readiness, and entrepreneurship.

“We do that by partnering schools with businesses and business volunteers,” said Lisa Metzger, senior district manager for the local Junior Achievement chapter.

Metzger said a big part of the program involves volunteers teaching in classrooms.

Past lessons have included guiding third-graders in creating a business plan for opening a restaurant and helping fifth-graders learn how to put together resumes.

“They learn different things in each of the grades,” Metzger said.

Tuesday’s job shadow event was a first at Bobcat, but it wasn’t the first time the company collaborated with Junior Achievement, said Laura Ness Owens, director of communications at Bobcat.

“We have many employees who are involved with Junior Achievement out in the school district,” she said. “So, it was a great opportunity to bring in students and share with them what we have to offer and get them introduced to our workforce offerings and processes.”

Bachmeier agreed.

“I believe things like this are sometimes more important than sitting in a class because it’s the workforce and this is what you’ll be entering into in the future,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555