“How much money do you make?”
“Do you like your job?”
Students at Dilworth Middle School got a jump start on answering these questions Tuesday at “Career Day with JA.” The first-ever local event was sponsored by Northern Nevada Junior Achievement, a non-profit organization that helps K-12 students learn about business and prepare for their futures.
“We want to give kids options — a vision for the future,” said Jim Murphy, president of Northern Nevada JA. “Sometimes kids don’t know about the opportunities that are out there.”
About 300 eighth graders at Dilworth got a pretty good look at their possible careers Tuesday thanks to representatives from more than 40 local businesses. From police and fire, to news outlets and social services, students had the chance to ask questions and start the wheels turning toward possible career goals.
Some even made contacts to get their careers started. Aliyah Luna-Araya, an eighth grader in Dilworth’s Career Skills class, was helping one of the participating businesses, a local pediatric dentist. They got to talking and the dentist offered Aliyah a summer job working in the office to see what the career is like.
“(The pediatric dentist) told me that it’s really great being a dentist because it changes people’s lives,” Aliyah said. “If (patients) have bad teeth they won’t want to smile. They’re really scared to go (to the dentist), but when it’s done they’re happy.”
During the four-hour Career Day, students went from employer to employer asking all kinds of questions and learning about the skills necessary to do various jobs. A common question was: “Do you like your job?”
“It’s good if you work in a good environment that makes you want to go back to that job,” eighth grader Johnny Ruiz said, explaining the importance of the question.
A few students even asked employers about benefits and retirement packages.
“You want to know if you’ll be covered when you’re older and done working,” said Brook Kaulitzke, an eighth grade student in the Career Skills class.
Georgette Knecht, who teaches the class, said the school is trying to stress that education is necessary to land jobs that provide retirement and other benefits, because too many kids are dropping out of school. She took an informal poll of the class asking how many students had parents with college or high school diplomas. There were only a few whose parents graduated college and some who indicated their parents didn’t graduate high school.
Juliana Cruz, an eighth grader, said her parents came from Mexico and don’t have a high level of education, but that they want to help her reach her goals.
“Even though a lot of our parents don’t have a college diploma, they still support us because they want us to go as far as we want,” she said.
The Career Skills students are also participating in another JA program in which they spend time working at local businesses. One day each week, students go to offices and file or do other tasks while talking with adults about the ins and outs of their jobs. The workplaces vary, from a chiropractor’s office to Sparks Municipal Court to an advertising agency.
Seventh grader Sonnsi Bourke has been helping at Lincoln Park Elementary School, working with young children. She said she has learned that she has to be strict, but that doesn’t necessarily mean yelling. She has also learned an important lesson that applies to even the ideal job.
“It’s aggravating but it’s fun,” she said.