CADILLAC — “When am I ever gonna use this stuff?‘

That’s not a question about cleaning out your junk cupboard.

It’s a question kids sometimes ask themselves about the classes they’re taking in school.

For the past decade, Rexair and Cadillac Junior High School have been trying to help kids answer that question.

The Rexair-sponsored “Reverse Job Shadow‘ career day at the junior high puts professionals from various industries in a classroom for the day. A doctor assigned to a science classroom might explain how they use cellular biology in their work. An engineer might talk about the math that helps them solve real-world problems.

Junior high kids know they have to take a subject but don’t always understand how it fits with their future plans — or they don’t know much about sub-branches of certain fields.

“If they can start seeing what’s out there ... every opportunity for these kids to see that is great,‘ said Ann Bush, a counselor at the junior high who organizes the reverse job shadow day.

Showcasing jobs that students could one day have in Cadillac is important, according to Tim Payne, general foreman at Rexair. Payne helps to recruit the professionals who volunteer for the career day.

“For a community to succeed, you need to be able to have young people come back to the community,‘ Payne told the Cadillac News.

Volunteers represent industries ranging from manufacturing to city hall.

“We try to cover all different career opportunities that are out there,‘ Payne said.

Bringing the volunteers to the school instead of sending junior high students out for a real-world job shadow helps kids who aren’t as well-connected.

Not every kid has the opportunity to job-shadow, Payne said.

Bush told the Cadillac News that the reverse job-shadow day helps build community connections.

For some kids, it can lead to an internship.

For others, it means it’s one more adult they recognize in the community, fostering connections.

Over the years, former students have told Payne that the reverse job shadow is a cool experience and helped them learn about careers.

‘“Out of the blue, you get a comment like that,‘ Payne said.

The experience of volunteering in the classroom is also good for the adults, according to Bush.

Speakers gain a better understanding of junior high kids, Bush said.

The event is popular with volunteers, Bush and Payne said.

Some years, they’re turning them away, as the junior high needs just 26 to 27 volunteers.

“We’ve never had a problem finding volunteers,‘ Payne said.

This year, the reverse job shadow is March 3 for the first four hours of the school day.

Cadillac News