JO ANNE EMBLETON, PATRICK FOSTER, JORDAN TERRY
Jacksonville Daily Progress
The annual Job Shadow Day sponsored by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce gives local high school students a brief peek into a profession they may want to pursue or are even just curious about, but more importantly, it allows them an opportunity to “learn outside the norm,” said school counselor Jan Lewis.
“It's definitely one of the best tools we have on campus, because it's an extremely realistic way for students to get a firsthand look at what a job might entail,” she said, adding, “it's way beyond the pages of a book.”
The Chamber has hosted the event since 2004, drawing 74 high school juniors and seniors this year along with a number of businesses, said Chamber coordinator Jenifer Newburn.
“A lot of the businesses are pretty excited (to be part of the program), especially the hospitals and larger businesses in town,” who often ask to be included the following year, she said.
The most commonly requested type of job to shadow? Those in the health industry, the women said.
“For this year's group, it was medical (fields, followed by) cosmetology, banking and accounting, then real estate,” Newburn said. “We haven't had too many (unusual) interests, though in the past, we've had people interested in going to the funeral home. Cosmetology was a big (interest) this year.”
“I would say that (health industry jobs) had far outweighed other interests,” Lewis said, although “the fire department and the police department are always a favorite.”
Laughing, she added, “This morning I went around to the businesses to check on (students) and at the fire department, they were very excited because a call had come in.”
On average, Newburn said, four or five students are matched to a business, who this year included: A Circle of Ten, All Smiles, Animal Medical Clinic, Austin Bank, Boogie Butt Productions, Cherokee Real Estate Co., Darr Chiropractic, David Anderson Consulting, ETMC – Jacksonville, Eye Care and Associates of East Texas, Family First of Jacksonville, Hatchett & Thompson, the Jacksonville Fire Department, the Jacksonville Police Department, Kut & Kurl, Merle Norman Studio of Jacksonville, Miles Barber Shop, Piney Woods Glass and Mirror, Rainbow's End, Senior Care, Texas National Bank, Trinity Mother Frances – Jacksonville, West Side Elementary, Jacksonville Middle School and the Jacksonville Daily Progress.
“Some businesses take one student, but others, like ETMC had 10, while Mother Frances took eight,” she said.
Pam Anderson, who chairs the Chamber's Edu-cation Development Comm-ittee, is director of outreach for A Circle of Ten, Inc., a nonprofit agency that trains and supports leaders to multiply partnerships impacting economic development.
This year, two JHS students shadowed the group's 205 E. Commerce office, while another three were down the hallway from C-10, partnering with David Anderson Consulting.
“We've been involved since the inception of the program, and take part in it every year,” Anderson said.
“It's a program that's been going on throughout the country, but I think Jacksonville is one of the few communities who actively do it – and I think that's because we make it such a big deal, that we've kept it active.”
The job shadow program started long before she got involved in the Chamber, as a way of allowing “kids to experience the job and just get a taste of what what it was like,” she said.
“It's well-supported by the school district from the superintendent to the principal and counselors at the high school.”
“From the school side, it's a winning opportunity for the students because it's definitely a day of learning out of the norm for them and it's a great opportunity for them to get out into the community and see what the real world is like,” she said.
“It's a wonderful thing that our Chamber is willing to do for our students, because it takes a lot of time and coordination on their part to give an opportunity to our students that we can't give them in the classroom, so it's very much appreciated.”
As part of Thursday's events for JHS students, the Chamber also hosted a luncheon catered by Bain Enterprises, along with a college fair.
Institutions participating this year included Jackson-ville College, Baptist Missionary Association Seminary of Jacksonville, Carthage's Panola College, Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Tyler's Texas College and Tyler Junior College.
Aaron Swink, a local native now serving as an associate attorney with Moak & Kesler of Jacksonville, was guest speaker at the luncheon.
“Of all the things we do, this is one of my favorite events,” Anderson said.
“I love it, this is so cool, because kids are getting an opportunity they might not have gotten otherwise.
“There are a lot of things they take away from the program, and we're hoping that they're enjoying themselves while they're learning,” she said.