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Teens explore career options

Students shadow mentors in volunteer internships

Posted: December 7, 2008 8:00 p.m.
Updated: December 8, 2008 4:30 a.m.
 

Senior Garrett Steadman stood in front of seven classmates and six community business volunteers to present the findings of his semester-long career exploration experience.

Steadman was part of the Valencia High School senior class to take the mandatory Career Exploration fall semester class.

Along with extensive research into a potential career choice, students were given the assignment to complete 45 hours of career shadowing with a potential future job peer.

Steadman spoke about his experience interning on police ride-alongs.

"Every day is different when you are a police officer," Steadman said. "Everything out there got my adrenaline jumping."

The room was silent as Steadman spoke. Boys in business suits and girls with curly hair and high-heeled shoes exchanged nervous looks.

Business people leaned back in their chairs assessing each speaker for communications skills, creativity levels and project presentation.

In another classroom, Kevin Silberberg stood tall with his freshly pressed azure shirt and slick patterned tie. Silberberg's senior presentation involved job shadowing under his mentor and aunt, a Los Angeles junior high school teacher. During his mandatory volunteer internship, Silberberg taught a seventh-grade drug self-awareness class.

"I love to see how kids react when they are being taught, and I want to be the person kids want to come to," Silberberg said. "It was interesting some of the questions they had (after he was done with class). They wanted to know, ‘Did you take drugs?' ‘Did you take steroids?'"

Silberberg smiled, his broad shoulders pushing back to highlight his pride.

Benny Velez was convinced of his decision to pursue a career in social work after his internship at the Boys & Girls Club, where he shadowed Education Director Janine Farrell.

"I wasn't really excited about it in the beginning because I was upset I had to work 45 hours, but the staff was so welcoming and it was so much fun there," Velez said. "After I was there for a couple of weeks and getting to know the staff, I really felt like I belonged there."

Melissa Tersigni saw a host of magical and shocking things when she interned at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

Tersigni's initial trepidation about the medical field was relieved after she spoke to her cousin, a nursing student in San Diego.

"At first I thought it was going to get kind of boring, but I ended up loving it," Tersigni said. "It was very informative and I learned a lot of interesting and shocking things.

"I got to help in the nursery assessing newborns and making sure they are all right," Tersigni said. "And I got to work in the post-partum area where I got to check on day-old babies. It was something I'll never forget."

Dressed in a hospital "bunny suit," surgical booties, a face mask and a hair net, Tersigni witnessed two Cesarean sections and four natural delivery births.

"With the first C-section I was behind the curtain where the patient was. But on the second one I got to see everything. I wasn't grossed out or anything. I got to see everything," she said.

Fellow classmate Aubrie Pohl also interned in the medical field.

Her experience took her to UCLA Medical Center's emergency room.

"It was a lot different than what I expected. It's not like what Hollywood and the media make it look like where it's busy all the time," Pohl said. "It can be quiet, and then a trauma can come in and things get very busy and everybody has to know what they are doing."

School-To-Career Coordinator Elizabeth Wilson said the high school's entire staff and about 60 community business people volunteered to assess each student.

The students' final project presentations represented 30 percent of their semester grade.

Now in its third year, the career experience program is a requirement for high school graduation at Valencia but is not a district-wide program, nor is it state mandated.

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