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Finding their futures one career at a time

Red carpet interviews, exploding experiments, prizes and a break from a mundane school day, Friday’s Career Exploration Day at Central Lakes College (CLC) in Brainerd had it all.

“I think it’s pretty cool how they set this up,” said Pequot Lakes junior Gunnar Kuehl. “They’ve got a lot of different stuff going on and I am enjoying the fact that it’s so well coordinated.

“That and the fact it’s interactive and not so much just telling us what’s going on has made this a really cool day.”

Kuehl along with his fellow Pequot Lakes classmates and more than 2,000 students from 20 central Minnesota high schools in grades 9-11 ventured through the doors at CLC starting at 9 a.m. “exploring” until around 1:30 p.m., with no limitations to what was offered during the event put on by Bridges Career Academies in conjunction with Workplace Connection.

Spread out through the various wings of CLC were different areas of interest, each one with it’s own element of fun and showcasing more than 150 careers, including:

Liberal arts.

Engineering and surveying.

Graphic design, photography and videography.

Computer and information systems.

Business, management and administration


Human services.

Automotive, construction and heavy equipment.

Agriculture, food and natural resources.

“Today is all about career exploration and to help students figure out what they want to be when they grow up,” said Sue Hilgart, team leader for Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (CEP) at the Workforce Center. “On top of just looking at potential careers, we brought information on how to do resumes, job interviewing tips and lots of hands on activities.”

Hilgart admits that making the event even more appealing to high schoolers is the day away from school and a chance to hang out with friends.

“All these students came in today really excited,” said Hilgart, who led the opening orientation for Career Exploration Day for each school. “They’re obviously excited because number one, they get to be out of school and they’re at a college, but number two because of the potential they can get out of this.

“It’s incredible to see the realization of all that’s out there for them and when they walk around they are engaged with all of the different things here. It’s great.”

For Desirae Waltower and Sara Hopkins, juniors at Pine River-Backus, the day was about reinforcing the careers they already had in mind.

“I think it’s really cool to see all of the different careers that really are out there, especially for someone who might not know what they want to do,” said Waltower, who wants to attend an out-of-state college and earn a degree in psychology. “I think if you take it seriously, it actually helps a lot because it has a lot of hands on stuff that you don’t really learn in school.”

And that beats a day in the classroom any day.

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5858 or Follow her on Twitter @jessi_pierce