Whitefish High School students got a taste of the working life during Career Week.
In addition to the annual Career Fair, where students can move from booth to booth and learn more about potential careers in the Valley, students this year also got the chance to listen to a new series of talks last week led by local professionals in a variety of fields.
The speakers included Wheelie Creative, the Whitefish Review, Job Service of Kalispell, Whitefish Lake Institute, OrthoRehab and DT Trimming, a tree trimming business started by WHS graduate Jimmy Deitz.
Roughly 15 students attended each talk, selected based on their interest in that particular field.
Amy Fischer, of OrthoRehab Physical Therapy in Whitefish, shared with students her experience and education that led her to become a physical therapist.
Along with job-centric advice, Fischer also shared some general wisdom for students looking toward the next stage of their lives.
“On thing I want to challenge you with — and this helped me make decisions — is I want you to think about how you want to live, instead of what you want to be. Because I know right now there’s a lot of pressure on you guys to decide, ‘What am I going to do for that next 50 years? What am I supposed to be?’” she said.
During her talk, Fischer fielded questions from students and helped shed some light on some of the paths required to reach their unique destinations within the physical therapy field, whether it be working with dancers, children, senior citizens or even dogs and other pets.
Every work day presents new challenges, Fischer said, and that’s one of the reasons she followed her path.
“It’s a very rewarding career,” she said. “I really enjoy it, just because every day I feel like I can make a difference with someone, and every day is different.”
WHS Special Services teacher Christian Bitterauf organizes the week said the addition of the speaker series was a test run for a future effort to bring in a local business into the school on a monthly basis.
The talks, along with catered food for the students, are funded through vocational education grants announced by the Montana Office of Public Instruction in July.
Bitterauf also would like to start similar talks at Whitefish Middle School and Muldown Elementary, though he imagines the popular careers at the latter will lean toward firefighters and astronauts.
He said there were more businesses interested in speaking to students than he could accommodate for the week, and in the future he’d like to expand into engineering, culinary and other fields.
“I think there’s people that want them to get excited and thinking about their future. Like OrthoRehab is really invested — they want these kids to come back and they’ve got jobs for them,” he said. “We just wanted to place more emphasis on careers in the Valley.”