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Summer job search on for students
Students pack up the books and start bringing home the bacon for the summer months

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, June 5, 2012

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
Basking in the sun at Long Lake, driving down the Ingraham Trail, barbecuing - the makings of a high school student's summer? Not quite.

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Dustin Shupe, left, Mikelle Wile and Denzie Hurst complete a project on finances during their career and life management course at Sir John Franklin High School, May 29. - Katherine Hudson/NNSL photo

These events might happen off the clock, but many secondary school students spend the majority of their summer days working, learning new skills as well as saving a few dollars for when they leave the proverbial nest.

Although some students start applying for more competitive jobs early in the year, some Grade 11 students at Sir John Franklin High School said the search gets underway around April or May and that it's not too difficult to pick up employment for a few summer months in Yellowknife.

Denzie Hurst works at the library as a page which mainly entails putting books back in their rightful places on the shelves. Mikelle Wile and Hurst also previously worked at Computers for School a non-profit organization that trains students to refurbish computers.

Although these odd jobs might not translate into a full-fledged career, they all require discipline and responsibility, said the students.

"Our job, we learned a lot of things about computers. I don't think either of us are looking for a career in that, but feel a lot more competency with our computers and that's a skill that we could bring to the workplace," said Wile.

The job research doesn't solely start as summer creeps closer, Sir John offers a mandatory three-credit course titled Career and Life Management which involves financial components, resume-building, university, college and apprenticeship research, as well as touching on topics of health and wellness.

Maureen Tonge, who has taught 13 of these courses over the past three years, said the way the course is delivered has changed over the years: mainly the majority of work being done online.

"They use a resume-builder online. It makes it extra easy for the students, they can just input information, they can preview it, they can reorganize the format, they're smart looking Although they still need to spell check," she said.

Tonge said what's really outstanding about the course is that students figure out what "makes them tick" what they have a passion for versus what they have no interest in.

"These days we do spend the majority of the time on the career aspect which students really seem to appreciate in the sense that they actually finish a course feeling like they have a better clue of where they might go. They're a little more focused What I stress to the students is it's all about them, it's not a matter of there being right or wrong answers. It's discovering what's right for you and how important is that, as a teenager?"

Outside the classroom, the hallways and bulletin boards of the high schools are decorated with job and apprenticeship posters. Announcements are put on their websites, as well as spoken over the PA system.

Businesses in the city are well aware of the influx of young workers in the summer months and prepare positions accordingly.

BHP Billiton Ekati Diamond Mine offers summer employment in many aspects of its operation, according to Alexander Legaree, community and external affairs for the company.

The application process for this summer took place in January and February and preference is given to applicants who are beneficiaries of the company's Impact Benefit Agreement Groups, including groups such as the North Slave Metis Alliance and the Akaitcho Treaty 8 First Nations.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the city hires approximately 40 high school and post-secondary students in the summer working in areas such as parks, the water and sewer department, solid waste facility, finance and engineering.

"It's experiential-type jobs Any that are really good are invited to come back from year to year It means that when they come back, they can just go to work, there's no training," said Van Tighem.

"It works good from both sides you get consistency, people that are growing up here get the opportunity to work here and then they might come back and live here."

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