Foothill students get close-up look at desired careers

Christian Reid, 17, knew he wanted to join the Marine Corps to pursue a career in aviation maintenance. He didn’t understand the impact of the work until he took a trip to the Aviation Institute of Maintenance near McCarran International Airport and saw how customers’ lives are in thecrews’ hands.

“Once an aircraft is in the air, it either lands safely or crashes,” he said. “It isn’t like a car. In the air, if something breaks the whole aircraft could come down and you could lose lives.”

Reid added, “It is not something you can mess around with; you have people’s lives in your hands.”

Reid’s trip, on Jan. 16 with two other students, was part of Foothill High School’s job shadowing program, in which 50seniors are connected with companies that fit their job interests. Other job shadow locations include the Henderson Police Department, veterinary clinics and salons.

Reid said he learned there is much more “classroom” and research work involved in aviation maintenance than he’d thought.

Tina Lahr, dean of students at Foothill, said sometimes students learn that a career doesn’t interest them — sparing their families and them from investing time and money in training for that career.

“Once they get in that environment and (they) see what it is like in there, (they) might say no, no thanks,” Lahr said. “It happened to me in my path; it is nice to know at this age.”

Paris Werly, 18, who’d long thought she wanted to pursue a career as a crime scene investigator or homicide detective, went on her job shadow trip Feb. 7 to the Henderson Police Department. After taking three years of forensic science classes at Foothill, she said the job shadows are important because “you see things you don’t see walking around high school.”

“After high school, you are taking a step completely blind,” Werly said. “It helps see into the field and helps you decide whether you want to do that job or not.”

At the Police Department, Werly and other students went to the dispatch center and sat alongside dispatchers as they responded to calls for service and sent out officers or fire department employees.

After, students went to the crime scene analyst area to learn how investigators get fingerprints and take photos. The next stop was the municipal court section, to witness a court case from start to finish, said Katrina Rothmeyer, department spokeswoman. The group also witnessed a canine and SWAT demonstration.

Lisa Mendez, career specialist at Foothill and coordinator of the job shadow program, described the Police Department visit as the “most awesome” job shadow she has been on. She has been working in the career center for six years. She also puts on a career fair and college visits for Foothill juniors and seniors.

Mendez connects 50 students to job shadows each year. She recalls one student did a job shadow at a veterinary clinic the day a dog was put down.

It was a valuable experience; the student was traumatized and realized she wasn’t cut out for that work, Mendez said.

Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter.

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