Some 300 Socorro Independent School District eighth-graders participated in a unique job shadowing program in partnership with local businesses and industries in El Paso.
“We just wanted to get them involved in exploring what is out there for them,” said Brenda Gonzalez, SISD business and industry coordinator. “So, when they get ready to commit to their high school years, they will have chosen a career pathway they can study. We are trying to take them deeper into what businesses and industry do. This will help them to make a decision of what they want to do when they get to the ninth grade and take advantage of everything Team SISD has to offer.”
The students, who are from SISD middle and K-8 schools, took part in career exploration at the Hospitals of Providence, UTEP Health Services Department, Teachers Federal Credit Union, Western Tech, Inter-National Bank, and Casa Ford.
The program, the only one of its kind for middle schoolers in the area, is part of Team SISD’s commitment to ensure all students are prepared for college, careers and life, and gave the eighth-graders a real-life, hands-on experience to learn more about various jobs and careers.
For the first two days, the youngsters received a first-hand look at what certain jobs and careers entail and learned from mentors in various fields and industries. On the third day, they returned to their campuses to complete career reports and assessments based on their experience and began a personal career portfolio.
“The tour at TFCU was important for me,” said Adela Garcia, a student at Montwood Middle School, as she worked on her assessment. “I don’t want to go into banking, but I do want to open up a bakery someday. To listen to how important a good credit score is or why I need to have a savings account, helps me to get my life ready for when I need to apply for a loan for my business. This was fun and a good experience.”
Like Garcia, students learned about themselves and the businesses and institutions. They were amazed at the advanced equipment used for rehabilitation therapy classes at UTEP, fascinated at how bank employees uncovered counterfeit money at Inter-National Bank and surprised at the technical side to the heating and cooling system while visiting Western Tech.
“At Providence, we discovered there are many different roles,” said Alexa Luevano, a student at Desert Wind School. “You never think about it, but doctors and nurses are only part of a large staff. There are so many people involved from the operators who take the calls to the finance department. It was really awesome to be able to get to start thinking early about your future career.”
Magali Rodriguez, a William D. Slider Middle School student, took a tour of UTEP’s nursing program and TFCU. She was impressed at people’s professionalism.
“At UTEP, we met some students, got to go into a classroom and reviewed lessons, which was eye-opening,” Rodriguez said. “On the second day, we went to TFCU where they gave us a tour. We got to be part of the executive board meeting, which was really cool. I got to learn how they get to do banking every day.”
Some students changed their mind on what career they wanted to pursue.
“I thought I wanted to be a firefighter,” said Francis Salcido, an eighth-grader from Salvador H. Sanchez Middle. “But now I am thinking about becoming a speech therapist. I loved going to UTEP and seeing how they did things. It was a great experience and opened my eyes to something different.”
David Hernandez, a Desert Wind student, really liked the trip to Inter-National Bank. He was amazed at all the security and the vault.
“There is nothing more exciting than seeing how people work in a bank,” Hernandez said, who hopes to be an aerospace engineer. “I like how they manage the money and the story behind it. I am so glad we were able to do this and not just stay home during intersession. What would I be doing at home? Just watching TV, sleeping or boring stuff like that.”
Every business or industry who participated in the shadowing program were impressed by the students and Team SISD’s dedication to help its middle schoolers learn about a variety of careers.
“I wish we would have had something like this when I was in school,” said Richard Torres, a personal banker at Inter-National Bank. “They are starting to focus on their career at an earlier age. That can only be to their advantage.”
Cecilia Fierro, an assistant clinical professor for occupational therapy at UTEP, said SISD students asked numerous questions and seemed generally interested in her class.
“It is an amazing opportunity to get them engaged and thinking about what career path they are going to follow,” Fierro said. “The district is preparing them in advance and not allowing them to wait until the last minute. This is great exposure for them.”
Max Villaronga, CEO for TFCU, gave the eighth-grade students a tour of the financial institution’s recently opened main office building and the adjacent credit union. TFCU has been a Partner in Education with SISD for several years and has always stepped in to help students.
“This program shows how progressive SISD is,” Villaronga said. “I think it is fantastic that the district is interested in preparing them for the workforce at eighth grade. We are proud to partner with them on helping to show students what careers are available out there.”
While this is the first job shadowing program for SISD, Gonzalez is already planning another one for the spring intersession.
“Everyone just loved the idea and I want to give a chance to more eighth graders,” Gonzalez said.
The three-day event took place during the first week of the district’s fall intersession. To view a gallery from the event, click here.