Students explore their futures through job shadowing

Julia Kuhn, In Depth Editor

Life after high school is filled with choices. Before making a big decision, it helps to explore all of your options. One way to explore job and career options is through the job shadowing program.

“You get a taste of what you want to do and understand it from a daily duty basis. You get to learn more, speak to professionals, ask questions about their education, and get more personal details,” Jeanette Greco, career site mentor, said. “A student gains insight into how hard a person works and what the hours are like. You also might think you are interested in one thing, and after you shadow it, you could realize that you don’t want to do this job. There’s also a lot of people that confirm that’s what they want to do.”

Students who wish to participate in the program must contact Greco, whose office is in A113, and fill out an application indicating the career they would like to shadow. There were 35 students that participated in the program last year, and there are already three requests this year. Greco said the experience is beneficial to students because students understand what a job is really like.

Elisa Thode, special effects makeup

            “For special effects makeup, I shadowed at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. I shadowed Sarah Hatton, she’s the wig master,” Elisa Thode, senior, said. “I liked it. I learned a lot more about how a professional theater works, how you have to adapt to what the actors are doing.”

Thode said she has a lot of her own experience with special effects makeup through working at the St. Matthew’s Haunted House, theater shows at Middle School North, and taking classes to learn more about the craft. The job shadow allowed her to gain insight into what having that career would mean for education and job competition.

“I was talking to my counselor because I wasn’t sure which colleges to look for, and they suggested I talk to Ms. Greco for job shadowing. I’m not even sure how she got me in at the Lyric Opera, it’s the biggest opera house in the country. It was really cool,” Thode said. “As a special effects artist, you have to find your own job and put yourself out there. There aren’t really many schools. I was really considering going into that field, but it’s so hard to find work. I’ve decided to major in biology, and do this as more of a hobby. But it’s really fun.”

Preston Braithwaite, automotive technician

“Last year I shadowed at Lake Zurich Radiator and Air Conditioning Service. It’s an automotive shop that Ms. Greco knew. I’m very interested in cars and everything, and it showed while I was there. When I was there shadowing, they offered me a job for over the summer. It was only supposed to be a summer thing, but it went so well that I work there after school now,” Preston Braithwaite, senior, said.

Braithwaite said he has hands on experience with automotives because he goes to tech campus for automotive service, but job shadowing let him see what every day life would be like as an automotive technician.

“I got to shadow a mechanic for eight hours, so all day. I learned what they did, how they did it, and exactly what it would be like for me after high school, what it would be like for the rest of my life,” Braithwaite said.

Braithwaite said he does plan to work as a mechanic after high school, but in a slightly different setting.

“I plan on going into the Marines after high school to be a diesel mechanic or aviation mechanic,” Braithwaite said. “What I’m doing now is fairly close to what I’ll be doing in the Marines, except cars are the small level. Everything would be bigger scale, bigger engines for airplanes or helicopters.”

Karen Lai, doctor

            “I went to Baxter Healthcare. They create medical products for hospitals. We had a tour of the building. It was really cool. We got to see laboratories and all the products they made,” Karen Lai, senior, said. “We saw a top secret prototype of a dialysis machine. I took pictures of it, but they made me erase them because it’s a secret from other companies.”

Gunjan Nachane, senior, and Mark Schwartz, junior, also went with Lai to Baxter. Nachane and Schwartz want to be chemical engineers, according to Lai, but Lai wants to be a doctor. Although the visit to Baxter was more engineering focused, Lai said that it was a great substitute to shadowing a doctor.

“I want to be a doctor, so the shadow wasn’t exactly what I want to do, but because of privacy laws, it’s hard to shadow a doctor,” Lai said. “I don’t know exactly what I want to specialize in, but I could see myself [specializing] in kidney failure, so learning about the dialysis machines was really interesting.”

Lai said the most beneficial part of the shadow was simply asking the researchers questions and learning more about the medical field.

“The question and answer part was the best. We ate lunch with five scientists, and asked questions regarding college and major,” Lai said. “Anything we wanted to learn, they answered, and it was great.”