During Evanston Township High School’s spring break at the end of March, 26 sophomores, juniors and seniors participated in the inaugural iKit Job Shadow Week program, where students had the opportunity to explore career options by spending 20 hours working with local business partners in a variety of industries.
On Monday, April 4, these students gathered with employer representatives, city officials, and ETHS vocational and technical education staff to celebrate their work, write thank-you notes to the companies that sponsored them. welcomed and receive a stipend check for their work, which has been paid. through donations to the ETHS Foundation.
The new Spring Break career experience gives students additional access to alternative career paths beyond college and a chance to learn more about industries they might be interested in exploring, according to Tana Francellno, Head of Career Partnerships at ETHS. Collectively, the 26 participating students worked with nine local employers, including restaurants, the Northlight Theater and healthcare employers like NorthShore University HealthSystem.
The program also serves as an extension of the Mayor’s Youth Summer Jobs Program, which matches Evanstonians between the ages of 14 and 18 with local businesses and businesses for a paid summer internship. The city has nearly 60 potential employers lined up for the program this summer, said Neil Gambow, chair of the mayor’s Employer Advisory Council. Students have until Friday, April 8 to register for the summer job program.
“We really wanted to do job shadowing as well as internships because that’s just another way of involving kids, and I think that was never done in high school,” Gambow told the round table during Monday’s celebration. “The kids all came and they were all really interested in a certain career path.”
Gambow also added that nearly half of the students wanted to pursue healthcare jobs and that 12 students ended up working with NorthShore and AMITA Health during spring break. In fact, two students who have completed the program already have summer internship offers with their respective employers.
One of these two students, ETHS senior Lashylah Bowen, followed a sonographer and a sterile treatment technician at NorthShore Evanston Hospital. Bowen said she’s not a huge ultrasound fan, but loves following the tech because she’s mostly interested in becoming a surgical technologist one day.
“We went up to [operating room], and we could see the sets, and it was more of a shadow at work,” Bowen said. “Day two was like we were actually interns, doing the work, so that’s what really appealed to me, and it was a hands-on experience. It was just fun. I think I could do this for a career, and it’s a stepping stone to the hospital, so where you start isn’t where you end.
Aliya Gillon spent the week observing different roles at Koi Fine Asian Cuisine and Lounge on Davis Street, where she learned how to take orders, set tables and more. She said it was a great experience to learn how the hospitality industry generally works, and she is returning to Koi for a job this summer.
“It’s the next way to start knowing what to do in the real world,” Francellno told participating students Monday. “The pairing will likely be here to stay. You are my first cohort, and I appreciate you coming and taking care of business. While everyone was on vacation, you were making money, so I’m proud of you for that.
In addition to these recent expansions of Evanston’s youth workforce development efforts, the leading candidate to succeed Eric Witherspoon as superintendent of ETHS, current director Marcus Campbell, said last week to student and parent panels that one of his top priorities for the next five years as a teacher would be to redouble investments in vocational and technical education at the secondary level.
“Young people are ready to learn, and we’re trying to convince young people that you’re going to be learning for the rest of your life,” Gambow said when asked about Campbell’s emphasis on life education. career. “Don’t think you’re going to graduate and that’s the last thing you learn. I don’t care if you’re a plumber, a doctor, a machinist, you’re going to be learning all the time, so be comfortable with that.