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South Jordan Journal

Elk Ridge students get glimpse of possible future jobs on career day

Feb 07, 2022 02:45PM ● By Julie Slama

Dental hygienist Lisa Ashby told seventh-graders about her job during Elk Ridge Middle School’s career day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Elk Ridge seventh-grader Bailey Harris learned about what a family lawyer does and the schedule a lawyer keeps. 

“I found it interesting,” she said, adding that by listening to Kimberly Hansen, it may have gotten her interested in studying law as a career.

That was the hope of the career day organizers.

“If kids can see the connection between school and their future career, they’ll become more engaged and motivated,” said counselor Alishia Huefner.  “That excitement can start with a glimpse of a career.”

Bailey also learned about careers in the banking industry, where she was surprised to learn people can begin in the field at age 18.

Career and technical education teacher Megan Rees said that the Cyprus Credit Union representative Wendy Buckner explained not only positions in the company and how people can work their way up, but she also explained to students how they can open their own accounts.  The representative also showed a video of their nearby credit union, which made a connection with students.

“The kids asked a lot of questions; I loved that she told them they use Microsoft and not Google Docs,” said Rees, appreciating knowing what she is teaching students about the cloud not being secure is in alignment with the industry, especially when dealing with financial documents. “It’s good that students are seeing real-life application. We focus on core subjects, but in the long term, it’s the electives that will support our families and so it’s good for them to learn how the core subjects apply to their electives and how we are making that connection to industry.”

Rees said that the college and career and technical education teachers had parents volunteer in four different fields: law, finance, medical and using computers with family ancestry.

Seventh-graders Olivia Condie and Brandon Morris both said they’d prefer careers in family ancestry over dental hygiene.

“I learned to really brush my teeth; the pictures were so gross of those who didn’t,” Olivia said. 

Dental hygienist Lisa Ashby shared with students her typical work schedule, the average salary of individuals in her field and the classes that helped her reach her career goals. She also explained some of the transferable skills she has gained, such as working with X-ray equipment and computers. She told students how important social skills are in her position, that she needs to be able to communicate and interact with all of her patients. The students were especially intrigued to see some of the X-rays Ashby brought, ranging from a broken tooth to mouth cancer.

Nearby, other students learned about the origin of their first or last name and where in the world it is common through family ancestry presented by Devin Ashby. They also learned about what was happening at the time they were born. For many, it was 2009, when gas cost $2.35 per gallon and the LA Lakers won the NBA title.

“The family history was cool,” Olivia said. “You could learn about your family’s past; it’s a career I’ve never thought of before.”

Brandon added that although he may want to become an innovator or lawyer, he found the presentations “awesome.”

“They really were descriptive about what they do, why they enjoy it, and showed or demonstrated to us what they do,” he said.

Career and technical education teacher Angela Hardy said students regularly do surveys to identify their interest and potential careers, but that having presenters come share their careers was “fantastic. The students were really engaged. We can expose them to as many careers as possible, but if this sparks an interest, they’ve directly made a connection with someone in the industry and are hearing about the career first-hand.”

Career day extended to eighth- and ninth-grade students as well.

Eighth-grade students set up their own job shadows in a career that interested them, Huefner said.

Those included shadowing a fire training captain, a jeweler, a bank manager, an accountant, a small business owner, a sales manager, a judicial assistant, a teacher and more.  Some students opted to learn about classes at the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers, which will lead to other careers.

“We had a student who was just fascinated about attending class in the vet assistant program,” Huefner said, adding that the student observed some surgeries. “In a previous year, we had a student do the job shadow in heavy-duty diesel mechanics there and came in the next day and said, ‘yesterday changed my life.’ He found that connection and it made a huge impact.”

She said that often once that connection is made, students’ interest in school and attendance improve, as do their grades.

Part of the assignment also required eighth-grade students to write thank-you notes to those they shadowed.

Ninth-graders typically listen to a panel of JATC students share with them about their classes so they know their options as they approach high school. This year, they watched a short video survey of the classes, then attended presentations of four of their top choices.

“This way, every kid learned about every program in 10 minutes, but then they got more in-depth with their top four,” Huefner said.

Programs included aviation,  EMT and fire science, horticulture and landscape architecture and nail technician. 

In January, ninth-grade students took part in mock interviews as part of their college and career preparation.