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Exploring profession pathways: DLHS students network with local employers during career day

A LakeShirts employee explains the production area of LakeShirts to a group of high schoolers as they begin a tour of the facility. (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)1 / 4
A group of students listen as employees and a resident describe the various careers and amenities at Ecumen. (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)2 / 4
Students participate in a mock trial at the Becker County Courthouse has part of career day. (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)3 / 4
Freshmen tour LakeShirts, watching a machine demonstration in the production area of the facility. (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)4 / 4

This year's freshmen are the last bunch of high schoolers before the academy model is phased in next year, but they were still able to explore career options thanks to Wednesday's career day.

The day started for the freshmen at the Historic Holmes theater, with an arts and mass communications careers presentation from Leighton Broadcasting, the Detroit Lakes Newspaper, and the Historic Holmes Theater representatives.

From there, the class split up, visiting other employers throughout Becker County.

They toured Lakeshirts and Ecumen, learning about manufacturing and health care careers.

At Lakeshirts students were impressed by the "fun" atmosphere, taking a slide from the second floor down to the cafeteria, which is also decorated with arcade games for its employees to use when on break. Then they got to see where the real work is done on the production floor, seeing each piece of the T shirt-making process.

"Freshmen tour businesses from each place on the Minnesota career wheel," said school-to-work instructor Vern Schnathorst.

Detroit Mountain was the stop for business administration, where students were able to learn about career paths in that field like marketing and accounting.

And at the Detroit Lakes Fish and Wildlife Service they went on a nature walk to learn about the tasks employees focus on there like managing the wetlands and reseeding prairie land.

The tour got a little more interactive at the Becker County Courthouse, where students got to participate in a mock trial, pretending to convict a fellow student for stealing a police cruiser. One student played the judge, and an attorney and Detroit Lakes Police officer were present to show the students the trial process.

Then, back at the high school, roughly 50 area businesses set up booths for a career fair. Businesses like Essentia, BTD, Papa Murphy's, Bergens, Becker County Human Services, the Detroit Lakes Police Department, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources talked to freshmen about jobs they could pursue this summer or after they graduate from college.

"It's been very educational," said one ninth grader, LTeya Vaughn.

Vaughn isn't sure what career path she'd like to take, but that's exactly what the employers were hoping for, looking to show students all their options.

But there were some students who think they know what they'll go for after graduating.

Jacob Bergstrom has his heart set on becoming a dermatologist, and the career fair was helpful for students like him who have already made up their minds.

Schnathorst said it was also an opportunity for students to network with people who have jobs in their field of interest.

"It's interesting to see the inside of jobs that you don't normally see," said another ninth grader, Taylor Prussia, who hopes to be a lawyer one day and mentioned really enjoying participating in the mock trial at the courthouse.

But the freshmen weren't the only ones who were able to benefit from the career booths.

It was ACT day for the juniors, but the sophomores were sent to M State for presentations from businesses in each of the Minnesota career wheel, and the seniors got to walk around the career fair after the freshmen.

The seniors had a little more of a "targeted" session though, said Schnathorst. They were able to do mock interviews with the visiting employers and had a presentation from a Detroit Lakes alumnus, Brent Stromme, who has made a name for himself in the entrepreneur world.

Stromme and his son, Robbie, talked with the students about things to consider post graduation.

Seniors were also able to networking with the area businesses, which will hopefully benefit both the students and the businesses in need of employees. After all, a little networking goes a long way.