Students learn through job shadowing
Many teenagers think they know exactly what they want to do when they “grow up,” but they may not realize what all a certain job or career entails until they experience it firsthand.
Thanks to the Franklin County Junior Leadership program, students from across the area were able to get that experience this past Monday.
Franklin County Chamber of Commerce director Cassie Medley, who oversees the Junior Leadership program, said students from all the county high schools as well as Russellville High School who are part of the program all participated in “Job Shadow Day” on Monday where they spent the morning observing local businesses and occupations with the hopes of gaining some insight into what it takes to do that particular job.
“This is the 10th year for the Chamber to sponsor Junior Leadership and each year we’ve set aside a day for the students to job shadow because we think it’s an important activity for them to participate in,” Medley said.
“Our Junior Leadership students are in the eleventh grade and will be making decisions soon about what career path they will choose, so it’s important that they get some insight into what careers are available to them and what they might be well-suited for.”
Medley said businesses from across the county volunteered or agreed to have a student shadow at their company or office and the jobs offered were very diverse.
“We had jobs and occupations that ranged from physical therapists to teachers to lawyers to pharmacists to veterinarians to doctors to engineers and more,” she said.
“I think it really gave the kids a good variety to choose from.”
Medley added that the purpose of the Junior Leadership program is not only to help local high school students develop leadership skills but also to introduce them to the many facets of Franklin County that make it such a great place.
“We do a lot of activities throughout the year that show the students things about the county they live in that they may not have known before,” she said.
“With our job shadowing day, we’re able to show these students that they don’t have to move away from Franklin County just to find a job. We need doctors and engineers and teachers and technicians and many other professions right here in the area.
“Sometimes these kids just think that there aren’t many opportunities for them close to home, so hopefully this experience with job shadowing showed them Franklin County has a lot to offer.”
The students who went out into the workforce Monday were allowed to write down three places they would be interested in going and Medley assigned each student to a business or office based on availability.
RHS eleventh grader Chase Holland was assigned to shadow Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing, mainly because Holland hopes to attend law school in the future.
“I want to attend law school but not so I can be a trial lawyer,” Holland said. “I hope to have a career in politics, so I think a law degree would be beneficial in that area.”
Even though Rushing is the county’s top prosecutor and spends plenty of time inside the courtroom, he is also an elected official, which means he has some experience when it comes to the political arena.
“During my time at the DA’s office, I saw how Mr. Rushing has to deal with the public on a daily basis and how important it is to be tactful, respectful and courteous to the people he talks to,” Holland said.
“If I become a politician, I’ll have to deal with the public regularly as well so it was good to see first-hand how to be diplomatic and sincere when handling different issues.”
Holland said he was also able to help Rushing with jury selection, which happened to be taking place on Monday while he was there.
“Even though jury selection isn’t something I would deal with in the career I’ve chosen, it does give me a greater appreciation of the whole process and how important it is to have good people who are willing to serve as jurors,” he said.
“It was interesting to see how that all works.”
Rushing said he’s participated in the Junior Leadership job shadowing experience every year it’s been available because he knows how important it is.
“I’m glad to have the chance to help these students prepare for their future,” Rushing said.
“A lot of time, kids think they know exactly what they want to do because they’ve seen it in a movie or on a TV show or read about it in a book, but things can be a lot different in real life.
“That is very true of a law career, and many other careers for that matter. It isn’t always as glamorous as Hollywood makes it out to be, so it’s good for young people to get out there and experience these things firsthand to know if they’re really going to like something before they invest a lot of time and money studying for that career.”
Medley said she wanted to thank all the businesses and offices that volunteered or agreed to participate in the job shadowing experience.
“I had several of the students call to let me know what a good time they had, and I appreciate our area businesses taking the time to invest in this future generation of workers.”