The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

From life saving procedures to researching the stars: Junior Job Shadow provides opportunity

Provided by Carissa Schutt
Schutt poses for a picture with the host of Get Up, Mike Greenberg and sports analyst, Alan Hahn.

One of Westford Academy’s largest focuses is preparing students for life after high school. This begins sophomore year with the Career Breakfast, followed by Junior Job Shadow Day, and wraps up with the senior capstone. These experiences are designed to support students in finding their path of interest and potential future occupation.

Every year, the junior class gets the opportunity to experience Junior Job Shadow Day on May 21. On this day juniors do not attend school, but instead spend a full day observing and learning about a self-selected occupation or industry they are interested in exploring.

The goal of the junior job shadow is for students to explore potential career interests and witness the day-to-day activities of their site mentor. This experience can be very enlightening as students learn more about the academic, technical, and personal skills necessary for their chosen profession, helping them understand the link between their education and future work.

“Westford Academy first initiated the School to Career program about twenty years ago,” guidance counselor Samantha DeMagistris said. “Both the Junior Job Shadow and Senior Capstone programs initially started as pilot programs, but soon became embedded into the school curriculum.”

The junior job shadow provides an opportunity for students that would be impossible in a classroom setting. Over a dozen students shadowed at a pediatrics office. Over 20 students shadowed at several hospitals, such as Emerson Hospital, Newton-Wellesley, Mass General, and more. Over 40 students shadowed at different schools, ranging from elementary to higher education. Close to 50 students shadowed at engineering firms. Some Job Shadow site companies included MIT Haystack, Raytheon, Fidelity, Westford Fire, Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, and ESPN.

Many students become even more enthusiastic and interested after observing their chosen occupation in action.

Junior Irith Midha, for example, spent the day at MIT Westford Haystack Observatory where he got to work with research scientists, engineers, astronomers, and geologists, and explore the different equipment in the observatory.

“It was extremely interesting for me, especially since I want to pursue a career in engineering. Being able to talk with the engineers and learn about the correlator and its components gave me hands-on experience that I really enjoyed,” Midha said.

Junior Carissa Schutt spent the day at ESPN where she witnessed many sports broadcasters in the works. While Schutt was there, she was able to listen in and go behind the scenes of two shows that aired that morning, Get Up and First Take. Through the use of Integrated Dynamic Media (IDM), a program used to create an engaging experience, she could hear the entire show, including the people who weren’t in the studio.

“[I am so happy I got to do this], because I could really see myself [in some] part of this industry and having a part of the TV side of sports journalism,” Schutt said.

Junior Katelyn Brown spent the day at UMass Medical Center in Worcester, MA where she was able to witness multiple medical procedures such as a transcatheter aortic valve replacement, and a stent placement. Brown was also able to watch surgeons use a catheter to dissolve a blood clot out of one of the main arteries to stop someone from having a heart attack.

“Watching these procedures was so eye-opening and genuinely made me want to do this for the rest of my life,” Brown said. “I want to have the skill set to save people’s lives. It was genuinely one of the coolest experiences I have ever witnessed.”

Junior Job Shadow Day lets students explore potential careers up close. By shadowing professionals, they gain insight into the necessary skills and dedication, creating new interests and aiding future career choices.

“The purpose of job shadowing is to help students explore a range of career options which can also help them narrow down potential college majors,” DeMagistris said. “Junior year is the perfect time for juniors to shadow as this experience will help guide them in their post-secondary planning process.”

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