Bridges Career Exploration Day Brings Thousands Of Students From 26 School Districts To Brainerd
Over 2,000 students from across north-central Minnesota descended on Brainerd today to experience and explore over 200 various careers and what they have to offer. The Bridges Career Exploration Day is an annual tradition that brings 26 school districts to Central Lakes College.
Surgical nurse, firefighter, electrical engineer, and teacher were just some of the over 200 careers that lined the halls at CLC today.
“Today is an amazing opportunity for our students to really just explore a variety of careers. Our goal is really to have them have an open mind and really just explore,” said Amy Sjoblad, Bridges Career Exploration Day volunteer.
The Bridges Career Exploration Day was started in 2008 with 57 exhibitors and 750 students attending.
“What we looked at was how can we grow and build something that is inviting because we know we have the audience if we can create the experience,” said Mary Gottsch, Bridges Career Academy Executive Director.
It has since grown to over 2,000 students and showcases more than 200 regional high-demand careers.
“We have grown so much we’re out of space. We get businesses every year that want to be a part of it,” added Gottsch.
The Bridges Career Academy, a workforce development initiative, started the Career Exploration Day over ten years ago.
“This and many of the other programs that Bridges does really brings together students, business, and the educators to all understand how business can work for them,” Gottsch explained.
Bridges hopes that the students get a feel for not only what the career is like, but what the environment during a typical day would be like. Most of the exhibits were completely interactive allowing the students to experience what a day in the career would look like.
“Students who are here get the opportunity to weld. They get the opportunity to draw blood from an orange. They’re getting an opportunity to see law enforcement,” Sjoblad said.
High school students around the area look forward to this day every year.
“I really enjoy it. You learn a lot. My favorite is the welding because you actually get to weld,” said Brainerd student Jessica Smith.
The organizers know how important it is to introduce students to potential careers.
“We understand that this is a big decision, but let’s take this opportunity and really learn from hands-on activities if this might be a career for you to further explore,” said Sjoblad.