Beloved groundhog Punxsutawney Phil was not the only one to see a shadow Thursday as he marked another six weeks of winter.
Rather, hundreds of thousands of workplace mentors across the United States — including a significant number from the Central Valley — were shadowed by students for the day during the annual Groundhog Job Shadow Day, an initiative that has given students an up-close look at how skills learned in school are put to use in the workplace for nearly two decades.
The Groundhog Job Shadow Day program began in 1996 with the first local Job Shadow Day in Boston, and a year later, the National Job Shadow Coalition was formed to encourage participation in a shadowing program throughout the country. The goal was to help young people explore firsthand the skills and education needed to succeed in today’s and future job markets.
No longer funded through federal money, Groundhog Job Shadow Day is now made possible through the Central Region Career Pathway Grant, Doing What MATTERS grant, and a coalition of local agricultural instructors from the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association. On Thursday, students from 16 high schools throughout the Central Valley got the opportunity to shadow a job.
“We were talking about how kids aren’t getting exposure to jobs they might want to pursue in the future and we wanted to fix that problem,” said Modesto Junior College grant director Lori Marchy. “My overall goal is that kids find a career that they are interested in and they know about.”
More than 100,000 participating businesses and organizations across the United States participated in Groundhog Job Shadow Day Thursday. Locally, students got the opportunity to shadow Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, various law firm partners, Channel 10 reporter Anne Di Grazia, E&J Gallo Winery, Duarte Nursery and Patterson Nut Company.
Pitman High School senior Natalie Madriz spent her morning at the surgery center of Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital with veterinarian Dr. Doug Marks, who showed her how a number of spaying, neutering and declawing procedures are conducted.
“I’ve always liked animals since I was little, so I really wanted to see what it would be like and see if I really liked it,” said Madriz. “So far, I like it.”
Marks said that he has been allowing local high school students to shadow him for years, and he hoped Thursday’s event will help Madriz decide if she truly wants to pursue veterinary medicine after she graduates.
“This is a great way for them to get exposure to see if this is something that she is interested in pursuing,” said Marks. “Not only does this give them a chance to find the job as something they want to do, it’s just as important to find out if it’s a job that they don’t want to do.”