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Be a positive role model and mentor for the next generation

Instructor looks for businesses where students can job shadow

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Dana Fellows

Often times I hear the phrase, “It takes a community to educate a child.” I believe this to be true, but lately I have run into a few roadblocks. 

There is a big push toward college and career readiness for students, and the state of Illinois is really pushing the P-20 initiative, which is defined as follows: the “P” in the name represents preschool, and “20” stands for grade 20 and education beyond college.

With this big push, I thought it would be a great time to resurrect a job shadowing and internship program in the computer technology program at the Whiteside Area Career Center. 

In the past, we did an internship program, but because of lack of sites, we put the internship program for computer technology into hiatus. With this new push, I thought it would be an excellent time to get internships and job shadowing going again.

I understand the demand on a business to have an intern on site for an extended length of time, so I downsized the program to a job-shadowing program. I reached out to a limited number of businesses, and although a few responded positively and without hesitation, a majority either responded negatively or did not respond at all. 

Some responses that I get back from sites are as follows:

n We are way too busy to take time to work with students.

n We are very slow right now, and the student would not get to see much.

n We can’t have students due to confidentiality.

n We can’t due to privacy.

n We can’t due to liability.

n We can’t because we are short staffed.

n We can’t because we have employees laid off.

n We are not equipped to do this.

n I’ll talk to our staff and get back to you.

I ask for everyone to take time and think before responding to anyone asking to intern or job shadow at your organization. Every one of us was a student at one point of our lives. Some of us had, and still do have, mentors that we look up to. We can choose to be a mentor and make a conscious decision to do something positive and influence others.

If you choose not to be a mentor, please remember that you are still a role model, like it or not. Everyone is a role model; some of us are positive role models, and some are negative role models. We do not have a choice because we don’t know who looks up to us.

So what I’m asking is, Why not be a mentor to young people and also be a positive role model at the same time?

Note to readers: Dana Fellows is the director of technology and a computer technology instructor at the Whiteside Area Career Center, and an adjunct instructor for Sauk Valley Community College. Contact him at WACC, 815-626-5810. 

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