It’s off to work we go
High school kids get taste of the real world
Some younger-than-average workers were on the job in Iqaluit last Friday – Grade 9 students from Inuksuk High School who headed to work for one day as part of the school’s Career Week activities.
At NorthMart’s office, Frank Alainga was swamped by stacks of cargo waybills that he was putting in order.
Liam Doherty could be found playing at Inuksuk’s day care centre with some new small friends, while Pasha Munick spent the day at the Baffin Regional Hospital, where she assisted her mother, who is an interpreter, and even got to hold a newborn.
The students’ day at work was Inuksuk’s way of participating in the national “Take your kids to work day,” which took place earlier in November.
This year, due to conflicting activities at the school, it made more sense to combine this day with Inuksuk’s Career Week. Then, the Grade 9 students who take a course called Career and Program Planning could be paired either with their parents or willing employers for one day of job-shadowing.
“In Grade 9, who knows what they want to do,” said Michelle Jacquard, a program support teacher at Inuksuk, who helped match students with jobs. “But going to work lets them see what adults do and what they’re interested in. They get to be at work on time, to see what work is and find out what they’re good at.”
Although not all students at Inuksuk worked during Career Week, everyone had a chance to learn about what Nunavut-based job possibilities are available.
One afternoon was devoted to rotating workshops on 36 topics, which included developing your own business, résumé-writing, dental therapy and archeology.
A career fair, set up in Inuksuk’s Tisi space, allowed students to wander among booths and pick up information from potential employers such as the City of Iqaluit, Public Service Commission of Canada, Parks Canada or Nunavut’s Health and Social Services Department.
In an effort to interest students, the health department’s recruiters handed out toothbrushes and invited the youths to participate in a draw for a First Aid kit. Some students also stopped to ask for information about how to become nurses.
Staff from Nunavut’s Human Resources Department were on hand to provide applications for summer employment and offer practical advice for young job seekers. The City of Iqaluit’s table was also busy with requests for information on summer jobs.
Monty Yank, the Quttinirpaaq National Park warden, arrived with lots of hats, pins – and information on how to work for the national parks.
“It’s mostly about giveaways, but I hope that when they think about what they want to do, they remember us,” Yank said.
As students milled around the booths, Liam and his new little friends were baking muffins. By the end of the day, he managed to get painted by a girl who dipped her teddy bear in paint and then swatted him with it. Overall, Liam was encouraged by his first experience as a child care worker.
Organizers, who included staff from Inuksuk as well as federal and territorial human resource departments and agencies, were likewise pleased with Career Week and the support it received from local employers.
“It was a lot of hard work from a lot of people,” said Inuksuk counsellor Sheila Levy. “It’s better when we all work together.”
This was the first year that the week involved so many activities and participants.
“I think we’re just learning to promote ourselves, focus on youth and let them know what’s available,” said fellow organizer Christa Kunuk, a recruitment and retention specialist with the Government of Nunavut.