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Students shadow job sites

Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow Wednesday, Feb. 2, and students from Knox and Blount counties had a chance to explore future career paths when they shadowed workplace mentors as part of the eighth annual Groundhog Job Shadow Day.

Sponsored by Junior Achievement of East Tennessee and its partner organizations, more than 500 students from 12 Knox County schools and one Blount County school were matched with more than 45 businesses to learn about job requirements in the workplace. More than 4,000 students participated across the state.

Jacquelyn Craddock, development manager at Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, said, “Our goal is for students to be workforce ready; to take education and careers and merge those two together by having firsthand knowledge about job skills and career choices. We want both middle and high school students to know what jobs are out there and what types of classes to take to prepare for those jobs.”

Michael Hsueh, a student at Farragut Middle School who participated in the event, said, “I learned what skills are required for certain marketing jobs, and I received an accurate view of what a real job is like. The most important thing is not to be surprised by not liking your real job.”

Craddock said the organization’s mission is to educate students about economics, business and free enterprise.

“We push for students to graduate from high school because they’re more prepared as a skilled workforce, which translates into better economics locally, nationally and internationally,” Craddock said. “In Knox County, thirty-one percent of students are economically disadvantaged. The longer a student stays in school, the more income they make over their lifetime.”

Donna Hardy, seventh-grade assistant principal at FMS, served as coordinator for the 18 students who participated from the school.

“The students did a lot of preparation beforehand by filling out mock resumes, a job expectations worksheet and a personal assessment form,” Hardy said. “We discussed dress procedures and questions to ask at the job site. After the students return, they will come up with individual personal action plans.”

FMS was matched with Goody’s Family Clothing Center, first visiting the corporate office, then the retail store at Turkey Creek.

Kristen Macht, Goody’s public relations manager, said, “We do job mentoring throughout the year, but this was our first time working with Junior Achievement. It’s a very worthwhile program and we want to help out however we can.”

Dotty Roberts, director of training and development, said, “We brought the students to our corporate office first to give them a behind the scenes look at the whole process of getting merchandise to the store. We showed them the in-house product development area, discussed the process of merchandising and how we take the concept of a garment and actually produce it. Then we showed the students the distribution process at our huge warehouse.”

FMS student Devon Shanklin said, “I learned where and how they get the upcoming style of clothes and how they are organized to get them on the rack.”

At the retail store, students divided into small groups and observed various jobs in the retail business, including stockroom worker, department sales associate, customer service representative, cashier and tuxedo sales associate.

FMS student Aqsua Khan said, “It’s been very interesting and really fun. I learned how a store operates and stuff; I didn’t know how stores worked before.”


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