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The Packer Weekly: Career development assists students in finding their way

By Jessica Qian and Logan Ahern

Senior Gerald Mudek eagerly heads to Sun Mart during the last two periods every day for his Career Development class. He quickly strips off his winter coat and puts on his Sun Mart uniform to begin bagging items for customers.

Career Development teacher Patrick Johnson strives to help anyone who needs help finding a job, whether they are a current student or even alumni of West Fargo High School. He teaches students like Mudek about working in the real world and helps them acquire job experience in stores ranging from Sun Mart to Paradiso.

With a school-provided vehicle, Johnson drives each student to where they are job shadowing and makes sure they are back in time to catch the bus or get a ride home after school. He has worked with multiple agencies to help students find jobs at Walmart, McDonalds, Gateway, Office Max and more. Some of the students Johnson has helped have been working at their jobs for more than 12 years.

“There is nothing it’s limited to; we find out what you’re capable of doing and try placing you in that area,” Johnson said. “Students come back and see you from time to time; we’re more than happy to see them. Sometimes they come back in because they need help again and we’ll do that. Just because they leave here doesn’t mean we won’t give them help.”

Randy Henrickson, manager of Sun Mart, got involved with the Career Development class through Johnson. As a result, several students have job shadowed there. Henrickson has the students work regular entry-level jobs, such as bagging or working as a cashier.

“It definitely teaches them, number one how to interact with people, how to be responsible for a job for themselves and how to incorporate that responsibility into their daily life,” Henrickson said.

Henrickson has watched the growth of the students over the years and has been impressed by their work ethic.

“I think over time they become able to interact with customers more efficiently and I just think it’s through dealing with those customers and seeing other people interact,” Henrickson said. “I think there’s always more of a learning curve, but I think that once they get more comfortable and know what their expectations are, they do very well.”

Mudek has job shadowed for Sun Mart as a bagger for a semester and said he has benefited from the experience. He feels more prepared for a job in the future, he said.

“I say I would have a significantly higher chance of a job if I put the person from my job shadow as a reference and apply for a job,” Mudek added. “I plan on going into the grocer business, like maybe as a bagger or a cashier, so it’s kind of what I want to do for my entry level job.”

As the manager, Henrickson has not interacted or worked with Mudek often, but he has gotten reports and stays in touch with his other employees to see how Mudek is doing.

“I think he does a very good job,” Henrickson said. “He does everything that is asked of him and he is able to handle what we expect him to do.”

Mudek said he is always happy to go to work and looks forward to the opportunity to job shadow every day.

“My favorite part about the class is getting the job experience,” Mudek said. “It has been great. I’m enjoying it there.”

(Editors note: The Packer Weekly is an ongoing column authored by journalism students at West Fargo High School with the intent of providing awareness about and insight into a variety school-related topics and activities. For additional information visit