|April 10, 2014
Career fair gives students a taste of real life
By Lailani Upham
Emilie Charlo and Shania Dubois visit the SKC booth. Charlo’s interest is to have a career as a wildlife biologist and Dubois choice is to study journalism. (Lailani Upham photo)
ST. IGNATIUS — It’s not your usual career fair. Students at St. Ignatius High School map out their careers, financial planning and life through interactive exhibits and engage in real-life unexpected experiences along the way.
Several organizations, businesses, and community members volunteer each year to help students better understand a path through college, budgeting, taxes, credit scores, job interviews and even mock background checks.
Nearly 135 students are ushered through the stations of life with close to 20 booths.
The fair has been ongoing for nearly 16 years, according to Terry Cable, School Career Director and Family Consumer Services teacher. Cable organizes the all-day event for grades ten through 12.
Juniors Camaleigh Old Coyote and Amanda Andres man the Life Event booth where student pick a fate of life whether it be good or bad. (Lailani Upham photo)
Students receive a grade from their English class and various teachers from other subjects give credit as well, she says.
At the beginning of the fair the students have mock interviews where they take the task serious. Students are scored for their job application, interview, job experience, specific skills, resume, and receiving a clean background check.
Different jobs are lined up with salaries ranging from minimum wage to higher depending on higher education.
If students want to earn a higher salary they have an option of going to college; however they must have a plan to fund their education as well.
Foreign exchange students, Julia Gsell and Lina Koethke stop by the SKC booth asking if they “could go to the tribal college” as well. They were received gladly by the station representatives and were given a rundown what the college could offer them. (Lailani Upham photo)
If they are not able to go to college for lack of funds and want to live a little better, they must find a side job.
After the job interviews students then receive a paycheck that is broken down to net income, after taxes are taken out.
With the fake money they then proceed to pay bills and also receive a credit score at a booth where they toss bag in a hole; it is an item on their life list they need before visiting a bank (booth).
Other booths offer the option to buy or rent a house, buy a car, a cell phone, insurance, food and other “on your own” stuff.
At the floating egg station a student pulls out their fate. One student received an extra bill of $200 to take care of their aging parent. He wasn’t please with the extra money he had to pay out, he said.
Gregory Weatherwax, junior, listens intently at his “options” for college. (Lailani Upham photo)
At the balloon burst booth where a student throws a dart to find another life event behind it can be a pro or a con to their plate in life.
Dominik Stallings, a junior received an unexpected “life event” of paying income tax of $150. “Why is life treating me this way?” he stated with distress.
Students have the option visit a financial advisor where they can get advice on their budgets as well.
Some students noted they decided to change their career paths thanks to the hands-on exhibits they experienced.
Cable said alumni students do return to speak to the students toward the end of the fair to give them a snapshot of real life and how the career fair had helped them prepare for the real world.
Volunteers conduct the mock interviews where students react with real-life attitudes. (Lailani Upham photo)
Shannon Ahhaitty, Salish Kootenai College Heavy Equipment Director said she liked how they give students a reality check. “It’s better to have a plan than just get a job.”
Ahhaitty added, “I wish they would have done this when I was in school. I’m still in debt (from school). I am going to have to be paying for my Ph.D. for the rest of my life. I like how they show them their budgets and tell them everything.”
Gregory Weatherwax, junior, made a few visits to the SKC booths to find out more about the cost of college expenses to become a game warden. His “plan” is to join the Army National Guard to pay for school.
Weatherwax said he felt pretty good about his “plan” – “It’s real life stuff.”