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Job Shadow Program Helps Students Explore Careers in Chemistry

By: Brian Bourgeois, Human Resources and Employee Development Manager

Have you thanked your local high school business education teacher lately? These unsung heroes of our public education system are responsible for implementing the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) model created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The program’s mission is to empower all students to travel the road to adulthood through education and training to careers. Business education teachers are role models, counselors and advisors. In one meeting, they may be helping a student with their behavioral and employability skill preparation. An hour later, they are discussing career planning with a student who wants to complete a job shadow to explore careers in chemistry.

Laura Scott is responsible for the ACP program at Iola-Scandinavia High School, a rural public school located in central Wisconsin with an enrollment of 329 in grades 7-12. Two months ago, she was introduced to our company, ChemDesign, by a sophomore student interested in chemistry and engineering, Grace Harbridge.

Grace (pictured with her physics teacchemistry job shadowher, Todd Snyder) had done some online research of her own and came across our blog post highlighting the chemistry job shadow experience of a Crivitz High School Student, David Neering. She identified with David’s experience growing up in a rural community with aspirations of being accepted to a nationally-recognized University to study chemistry. Grace told Laura of her desire to tour the ChemDesign campus, located two hours northeast of her hometown.

Within two weeks of her first contact with us, Grace was visiting the ChemDesign campus. She spent her morning in our laboratories. She talked with Roman Leiser, a process chemist, while he was analyzing results on a chemical with light sensitive properties. Alison Cox, a QA analyst, showed her the process for testing samples from the plant. While Alison added a chemical to a sample, the substance turned from purple to pink.

After a catered lunch, Grace spent her afternoon with the engineers. Bob Martens showed her the designs and proposals for adding a new reactor to a production unit. She was intrigued as he described taking off the roof of the facility to make sure the reactor would fit. She was also able to join him in the plant while he did an inspection.

With her valuable job shadow experience completed with ChemDesign, Grace has become more interested in chemical engineering. This fall as a junior, she will take advanced science courses on the UW Stevens Point campus, located about 25 minutes from Iola. Her dream is to attend North Carolina State or the University of Wisconsin.

Our team enjoyed hosting Grace for a day on our campus and wish her success in pursuing a career in chemistry. With each job shadow experience, we are developing connections across our state for students who desire to see firsthand how we make chemistry work.

For more information on the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) job shadow requirements students like Grace are completing in the State of Wisconsin, visit: https://dpi.wi.gov/cte/career-development/job-shadow

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