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South Effingham freshmen get hands-on work experience
job shadow - caleb hazzard
Caleb Hazzard worked as a paralegal at Dennis Dozier’s law firm. - photo by Photo submitted

Thanks to the Workplace Readiness Program at South Effingham High School, freshman Caleb Hazzard knows what he doesn’t want to do after he graduates from high school.  

On April 16, Hazzard and several other students participated in a job shadow day as part of the workplace readiness class they are taking at SEHS. This is the first year that both SEHS and Effingham County High School have offered the required readiness course for freshman.

The purpose of the course is to encourage freshman to begin considering the type of career they may want to pursue after high school and then to prepare for that career by choosing an appropriate career path featuring the courses that will be most beneficial.

Hazzard’s initial interest in becoming a lawyer or paralegal changed after he shadowed paralegal Brandalyn Youmans who works with Dennis Dozier, a Rincon attorney. The freshman said his visit to the courthouse to hear a case that Mr. Dozier was representing was very interesting, but the amount of paperwork that a paralegal has to do was not appealing to him.

After shadowing Youmans from 8:30-5:30, Hazzard decided he is more of a “hands-on” person and is now considering a career in construction or automotive repair.

While some may think that Hazzard’s job shadow experience was a waste of time, Becky Truluck, SEHS Work-based Learning Coordinator, believes the day was very beneficial for Hazzard.

“He not only discovered that working in the legal field wasn’t what he really wants to do,” explained Truluck. “He also learned that he would prefer a career that involves more hands-on activity.”

Truluck went on to explain that all students who chose to participate in the optional shadow day were required to shadow for at least eight hours and were given a list of questions to ask their career mentor.

After spending a day in their chosen workplace, the students were required to write an essay describing their experience sharing what they learned.

Unlike Hazzard, freshman Megan Caldwell had a very positive reaction to her shadow day experience. Caldwell wants to be a pharmacist and chose to shadow Tammy Saxon at Carter’s Pharmacy in Rincon. She worked from 8:20 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and said she had a lot of fun despite feeling tired from being on her feet all day.

“I got to do all the things that a pharmacy technician does,” explained Caldwell. “I counted pills, filled pill bottles, put the labels on them and helped customers. I also got to mix a special mouthwash, which was like combining cooking and chemistry.”

Caldwell is planning to take health occupation classes next year as well as lots of math and chemistry. She learned that a pharmacist must attend six years of college and that they earn between $84,000 and $94,000 per year. A pharmacy technician earns about $11 per hour.

Eddie Jovan was another student who thoroughly enjoyed his shadow day experience. Jovan shadowed Keith Rogers at 21 Auto Repair in Rincon because he enjoys working on cars and thinks he might want to be a mechanic. He learned that most mechanics specialize in a certain area, like radiators or bodywork.

“I’m not sure yet what I’d be best at,” stated Jovan, “but I plan to take automotive classes to help me figure that out.”

During his eight-hour work day, Jovan learned how to use a computer that diagnoses what’s wrong with a vehicle, he helped repair a misfire in an EGR valve and he worked on repairing an air conditioner’s pressurizing system on a Chevy pickup.  

Jovan said he enjoyed working with the mechanics because it was a relaxed atmosphere where everyone was an expert at the job they were performing.

He learned that he could earn a two-year technical degree in order to become a mechanic and that most mechanics without experience earn minimum wage.

Madison Miller hopes to start out making a little more than minimum wage as a dental hygienist. Miller shadowed Michelle Kelly at Dr. Robert Bosque’s dental office where her mother works as a dental assistant.

Her long day started at 7:30 a.m. and lasted until 5 p.m. during which time she learned how to measure a patient’s gums to help determine risk factors for tooth decay. She also recorded information taken from x-rays and helped place a gas mask on a patient who required sedation prior to her dental work.  

“It was fun,” stated Miller. “I’m looking forward to a job where I can help people with their teeth and help them have a good smile.”

Miller learned that a dental hygienist makes between $15 and $20 per hour and has to attend a two-year technical program to earn certification in the field. She said she will probably attend Armstrong Atlantic State University after high school.

According to Truluck, about 35 SEHS freshmen from the three different workplace readiness classes participated in this year’s shadow day. Truluck believes the new program is going to be beneficial in helping students figure out early on in high school what their career interests are and what classes they need to take to prepare for their chosen career.