Industry Insights: The 2022 Strategic Initiative

“Just because you start somewhere doesn’t mean that’s where it’s going to end.”

Brian Ward, operations shift supervisor, Litehouse, Inc.

Every year, we work closely with Lake Pend Oreille School District to invest in a strategic initiative that is larger in scale than our teacher grants and addresses a key challenge the district might not otherwise be able to pursue within their resources. 

This year, the district leadership team told us they’d like to give students more tools to think about their next step after high school. 

When you were in high school, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? The odds are that your answer is “no.” While a small percentage of students have a clear idea, the majority do not. According to Greater Good Magazine, most high school students experience either intense pressure or feelings of disengagement in school. That’s a significant swing on a broad spectrum, and we’d like to be a part of changing that. 

One essential ingredient is to provide meaning or a sense of purpose. How can students connect what they are learning in school now with what they are interested in and what the world needs?

While the intense pressure often comes from choosing the right secondary school and the right path, we also want to give students the sense that they can explore and change directions. 

Of course, they have Google, which many of us did not have at that age. They have their favorite influencers on social media, another thing we didn’t have. 

But, there are countless work opportunities out there one doesn’t know to look for because one doesn’t know what they don’t know. 

For example, would you have pursued a path in cooking if you knew you could be a chef? Might you have followed a different course of study if you knew environmental science was a thing? Industry Insights is a video series that connects students with our business community and offers ideas and insights into what we would call “un-googleable jobs,” things you might not otherwise think about, like food manufacturing, ski resort leadership, computer engineering, and rescue equipment design. 

We have sought to help make those connections between their current studies and passions while emphasizing that it is not necessary to have all the answers now. We show stories of professionals who started down one path and redirected after a time. We learn what it means to work at an employee-owned company like Litehouse and eventually become an operations manager.

If someone is considering going into construction, where do they start? How do they know what they want to do in that broad sector? The founder of Idagon helps to break that down. 

Jill Bentley, director of human resources at Kochava, started in communications but shifted to HR. She describes what it takes to become an HR director and how you can pair that with a passion like computers or skiing, which brings us to positions at Schweitzer Mountain. Tom Chasse started as a ski instructor and worked his way to CEO. 

While the videos showcase an array of possibilities, they also provide a real-life window into how people got into the work they do today. 

The videos air every other week at the high school during morning announcements, and we are so glad to be able to show students opportunities right here in our community while inspiring them to explore outside of Sandpoint if that suits them. Most importantly, we want to give them tools to see a variety of career paths that spark something to prompt them to explore. 

If you’d like to support more of this work, we invite you to do that here.