Jr. Achievement students go on job shadow blitz

12:33 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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CALEDONIA, Mich. (WZZM) -- Some local high schools are getting a taste of what it is like in a real workplace this week. The students are part of the Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes Job Shadow Blitz Program.

The program is designed to provide hands-on-experience in a professional setting to help put students on the right path.

"We provide programs kindergarten through the 12th grade focused on workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. This year within our service area we will impact over 60,000 students," said Lisa Hegenbart, vice president of education.

Tuesday roughly 20 students with Northview High School were at Farmers Insurance in the Grand Rapids area. The students rotated between the training room, claims center and service call centers learning what professionals at Farmers do on a daily basis.

The unique thing we try to do here is rather than just taking them for building tours, which is what we did more of in the past, our focus now is to actually get them seeing people doing what i call front line service to our customers," said Tom Johnson, HR Specialist, Farmer's Insurance. And so the whole focus is they leave after the morning with some very specific job focus opportunities.

Johnson says the company has 2,600 employees on the site performing over 400 different jobs. So, no matter what area of study interests the students, they are likely to encounter a job where those skills play out in a real world work environment.

Job shadowing is a great opportunity for students to connect the careers they are learning about in school and careers they hear about on a daily basis and be able to see them in action and understand what companies are looking for in employees," said Hegenbart. To see what skills, experience what education and training is needed so they will be able to make knowledgeable decisions both about careers and about educational choices.

Johnson says, "There is a huge difference between job shadowing and taking kids for a tour through the building. That what i think we have uniquely been trying to develop here, are experiences that the kids can truly walk away from and say 'ok I saw two or three specific things this morning in my experience here at Farmer's that will give me a better understanding of career opportunities.'"

Farmers Insurance is one of 11 companies where Junior Achievement students got a chance to shadow employees Tuesday. Union High School students will get their chance to tour four businesses Wednesday.

The companies represent some of the most successful and well respected businesses in the West Michigan community. They include: Amway Corporation, Chase Bank, Davenport University, Farmers Insurance, Grand Valley State University News & Information Department, Lambert, Edwards & Associates, Spartan Stores, Terryberry, West Michigan Shared Hospital Laundry, Wolverine Worldwide and the YMCA.

The hope is shadowing these professionals will inspire and prepare students for the next phase of their lives.

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