On Jan. 8, more than 50 students from Warren County high schools spent time in the workplaces of four businesses learning about career opportunities. Career Exploration Day began as a response to student and business needs. Growing interest in Job Shadowing, where students spend time in the workplace to learn about careers, put stress on some of the more popular destinations.

“Some of our business partners were feeling the strain of accommodating lots of students one at a time,” noted John Lasher, School to Work Coordinator for the Warren Forest Higher Education Council. “This program enables groups of students to see the workplace and gather information about careers of interest, while reducing stress on our business partners. In addition, students are bused to the business locations, removing another barrier to the job shadow experience. For Warren General Hospital, one of the most popular job shadow destinations, Career Exploration Day provides some relief for a busy staff. “Having 19 students visit at a time is a challenge for us,” said Jim Loree of Warren General’s Human Resources Department, “but it eases the constraints of scheduling 19 separate visits.”

Students create a profile using “e-Choices,” a computer program, to help identify areas of interest and careers matching those interests. From there students decide which career to explore further and begin the registration process to go on a Job Shadow. For individuals, the Job Shadow program has a lot of flexibility. However, Career Exploration Day are designed to support groups traveling to popular business destinations – where each individual still gets a sense of the employer. Kathy Mohney of the Forest Service explained, “Although the Allegheny National Forest provides a broad range of local employment opportunities, this event also allows us to show the students the many benefits a career in the Forest Service offers to those interested in exploring other areas of the country.”

This winter’s business partners included Allegheny National Forest, Betts Industries, Radio Partners LLC, and Warren General Hospital. Lasher commented, “Obviously, we could not offer a program such as this without the support of our business partners. Their commitment to the young people of Warren County is commendable.” “We enjoy seeing students from the area show interest in local business and industry,” commented Rod Henry of Betts Industries.

The school district allows students to use job shadowing as one of the optional projects to complete their graduation requirements. All students build portfolios of material that will help them after high school, whatever their post-secondary plans.

For more information about Job Shadowing and the other School to Work Programs of the Hi-Ed Council, go online to www.hi-ed.org.