Looking into the future
It was a Friday afternoon, and a pair of teenagers sat nearly motionless — their hands deftly manipulating a set of controls, their eyes locked on video screens in front of them — as they earned extra credit.
Rather than wasting their afternoon on some imaginary video game quest or first-person shooter, the teens were getting a first-hand look at what it might be like to work behind the controls of a piece of real-world heavy machinery, courtesy of equipment simulators provided by the King Career Center in Anchorage.
“This is how we train people now,” said simulator coordinator Kraig Berg with KCC, the Anchorage School District’s vocational training center.
The simulators were set up in a Chugiak High School hallway as part of the school’s after-school Career Fair on Nov. 18. A dozen professionals — ranging from cops to mechanics — took part in the event, talking to students about their chosen fields and providing some insight into what the real world is all about.
“That’s actually what you would find in the equipment,” Berg said, pointing to the simulators’ controls.
Chugiak senior Luke Plumb said he plans to work construction this summer with his dad, and wanted to try the simulators out. He’s still not sure if a career in construction is where his future lies, but said the fair was a good way to explore several options.
“I don’t know what I want to be, but this career fair gives you a lot of different ideas,” he said.
In a nearby classroom, Alaska State Troopers Kevin Vik and Rick Sawyer spoke to students about what it’s like to chase bad guys for a living. Vik, a 2003 Chugiak grad, said the idea behind attending the career fair was simply to expose potential recruits to what the job is like on a day-to-day basis.
“That way, they can at least have an idea of what we do,” he said.
Trooper Sawyer said he also stressed just how important it is for students to make good decisions while still in high school.
“I tell them to be responsible now, because what you do could affect your future down the road,” he said.
Students had plenty of questions for the troopers — everything from how fast their cars go to what it’s like to chase down criminals. Sawyer said he and Vik tried their best to stoke the students’ enthusiasm for law enforcement by telling them the best part about working in law enforcement is that every day presents new challenges.
“Basically, it’s a little bit of everything,” he said.
Chugiak consumer science teacher Kathy Vik (and Kevin Vik’s mom) said this year’s career fair was the first of its kind at Chugiak. She said the special after-school program was made possible by an additional $3.5 million in funding for vocational education in the district.
“That’s a really good thing,” Kathy Vik said.
Kraig Berg with KCC said the job fair helps get students thinking about a future after high school.
“It takes that kid and they can say, ‘Hey, I can do this,’” he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org