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High school seniors shadow local business professionals

Job shadowing can lead students toward careers, or help them determine which career pursuits are not for them.

T.F. Riggs seniors — 126 students — spent at least two hours during April 3-4 on a one-to-one or two-to-one crash course with local business people, learning what that specific job entails on a day-to-day basis. Giving input on fields holding their interests, the students were assigned a work site. Along with past and newly-participating businesses, the Pierre Job Service, Bureau of Human Resources, and the Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) held the event as a prelude to the “Week of Work” promoted by Governor Kristi Noem.

The seniors first tested for the National Career Readiness Certificate, an industry-recognized credential that certifies skills needed for workplace success. Its three assessments include applied math, graphic literacy, and workplace documents. Students explored occupations by Career Clusters using DLR’s labor market information center. Each student then made their top three choices, and DLR staff worked with businesses to make a match.

“The diversity of students’ interest was quite impressive,” said Dawn Dovre, director of policy for DLR. “Occupations and industries ranged across electrical, dentistry, financial services, healthcare, teaching, welding, mass communications, plumbing, construction, and more.” Some DLR staff, including Dovre, rotated through some of the locations during the job shadowings.

“We hope these shadow experiences give the students some real-world experience in their career interest areas, along with giving the companies an opportunity to connect with some of the future workforce,” said Kelsey Halderman, DLR employment specialist.

“Kelsey Halderman reached out to T.F. Riggs School administrators and counselors about the Department of Labor and Regulations Career Launch program early in the school year,” said Assistant Principal Amy Boutchee. “Since this time, Kelsey has worked with Riggs staff to create job shadowing opportunities based on career interest surveys.”

Students Natasha McAlpine and Gabriella Freestone shadowed Capital Journal staff. The two students had the newspaper assignment of covering the Job Shadowing story. “Seeing and getting to talk to my fellow students, as well as their job-shadowed business people, gave me a real taste of the journalism field,” said Freestone. “I now know journalism is far more interesting than I initially thought. Without this program, I would have missed out big time.” McAlpine added, “This has been the best, most interesting day of school I’ve ever had.”

Learning time constraints and deadlines, McAlpine and Freestone, could cover only a very few of their fellow students. Chiropractor Curt Kuehl, a Riggs graduate, has been hosting Job Shadowers for over 30 years, with at least three of those students now themselves chiropractors in the Pierre area. Kuehl told student Alejandro Ramirez that he believes natural ways of healing are better than popping pills and taking medications. Student Autumn Harris, interested in anthropology and paleontology, was given a behind-the-scenes tour behind the many security doors of the Cultural Heritage Center by director Jay Vogt and other staff. Garrett Leesman and Jackson “Jake” Miller got their hands dirty working on a combine, under the supervision of Logan Swartz and Nathan Giobanetto at Grossenburg Implement.