Job shadowing gives students a career taste


by: SUSAN MATHENY/MADRAS PIONEER - Jose Baltazar works on a computer at Madras COCC while redesigning the Juntos Program's training manual.Two Madras High School seniors are sampling possible careers through a new Oregon State University Open Campus job shadow and internship program.

“The program gives kids a taste of what a career is like to see if they really like it. We’re trying to hook kids up with those experiences,” said Jennifer Oppenlander, Oregon Open Campus coordinator in Madras.

“We’re working with MHS to offer more job shadows. These seniors wanted the experience, which will look good on resumes, and college applications,” Oppenlander added.

Graphic design

Student Jose Baltazar is interested in graphic design, and also went through the Juntos program, which teaches Hispanic students and their parents about college opportunities, requirements, and financial aid.

Up to now, the Juntos classes have been using a training manual developed by the University of North Carolina. Baltazar’s job shadow assignment is to redo and localize the manual, working with Oppenlander and Ana Gomez, Oregon Open Campus education program assistant.

Doing the redesign on a computer, Baltazar said, “I transfer the text, add graphics and local pictures, and make it more OSU-oriented.”

To do the work, he had to teach himself to use the InDesign computer program. At MHS, he has also taken graphic technology and computer technology classes, and worked with Illustrator and Photoshop computer programs.

“He’s doing the 110-page facilitator guide, and helping with the participant’s guide and a PowerPoint presentation. It’s a huge project,” Oppenlander said.

During school, Baltazar works on the manual in his advanced computer technology class, and after school, at the Oregon Open Campus office in the Madras COCC building.

“This is getting me started in graphics design so I have the gist of what I’ll be doing in the future,” he said of his job shadowing.

To see the business side of things, he also is working as a waiter at Rio Restaurant Friday through Monday. “The restaurant is a form of design with its food and presentation – that’s how I see it,” Baltazar commented.

As a member of the Juntos Club, he got to go on a three-day leadership trip to the OSU campus, and has also visited the University of Oregon campus.

“I always wanted to go to college and my parents encouraged me, but it seemed overwhelming. Juntos helped get me started in the right direction and know what to expect,” he said.

Baltazar’s future plans include signing up for MHS’s new “advanced diploma” program, in which students are enrolled at MHS for a fifth year, but attend COCC as college students with free tuition for up to 36 college credits over the course of a year.

“I’ll take my prerequisites at COCC, then transfer to a college oriented to graphic arts, possibly Mount Hood Community College,” he said. After earning an associate degree, he plans to transfer to OSU for a four-year degree.

Future chef

Erik Diaz, left, is learning about being a chef from mentor Raul Arriaga at Rio Restaurant.With an interest in becoming a chef, MHS senior Erick Diaz has gotten some insight into the occupation since starting an internship in February.

“Ana (Gomez) helped me get a job shadow at Rio Restaurant. She talked to Raul,” he said, noting he has been trained to be a waiter and cashier.

This is his first time working in a restaurant. Previously, he has done ranch work for Boyle Family Farms.

“Every day is a new experience. Sometimes you mess up and have to learn to deal with it,” Diaz admitted. He works Friday through Saturday and some Sundays, from 5-8 p.m., then does cleanup work until 9 p.m.

“The job shadow is done for the experience, and they feed me, too,” he said, noting one of the benefits.

Although he is a waiter, Diaz also gets to be in the kitchen and see the chef and assistant cook at work.

“I really like the way they make their food; it’s like art and tastes really good, too,” he said with enthusiasm.

Diaz visited COCC’s Cascade Culinary Institute in Bend and really liked it. “I’m thinking of becoming a chef and going there,” he said, adding, “They have a restaurant on campus where the students work.”

Besides gaining career experience, the Rio job shadow may help Diaz financially as well.

“I like working there, and hopefully, I’ll get hired there after the job shadow,” he said.

Rio manager Raul Arriaga said he agreed to mentor Baltazar and Diaz to give them an opportunity, and to help the community.

“Erik wants to go to college to be a chef, and here he can learn in the kitchen. There are many Mexican restaurants in Madras, but Rio is different, with better presentation, servers and different ingredients,” Arriaga said.

And there are also advantages for the businesses. Baltazar has designed brochures for the restaurant, and a lot of people know Diaz. “He knows students, teachers, and farmers, and those are my customers,” Arriaga said.