Shadowing Success: Garland Students Explore Career Options Through Job Matching

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The Garland Chamber of Commerce is well known in the community and the region for being The Connecting Source, a reputation that rings especially true in the organization’s most recent collaboration with the Garland Independent School District.

GISD schools are recognized across the nation for high performance campuses and customized education tracks. Exceptional education has long been the focus of GISD, with rigorous instruction, technological innovation, as well as college and career preparation, and yet community perception continues to give employers pause in considering GISD students for internship and entry-level career opportunities.

In a dedicated effort to tackle this misperception, through a partnership with three dynamic instructors, and with the support of GISD administrators, an education task force was formed. The purpose of this task force is not only to convey the high caliber of students produced by GISD, but also to create opportunities for students to shadow, intern with, and be mentored by local professionals from the diverse industries located right here in Garland, Texas. After months of planning and preparation, a newly-developed Job Shadow Day concept kicked off with Match Day on Sept. 22, 2015.

Task-force-participant instructors from Garland, Naaman Forest and North Garland high schools began by conducting thorough, extensive evaluations of the students in their programs and carefully selecting their top students to participate in this first-time opportunity. Together, they brought 35 students to the Richland College Garland Campus Gallery where eight local companies each hosted a table. In a format similar to the Chamber’s popular Direct Connect networking event, students were assigned rotations, allowing them to visit each of the eight employers for about eight minutes apiece.

With two to three students per rotation, participating companies conducted brief interviews and offered a quick look at career options within their business. Following the rotations, students and companies were each asked to rate each other, giving the Chamber and GISD instructors the ability to see which students would be a best fit for each company on Shadow Day, which will take place on Oct. 9.

“It was really intimidating to have all these people asking me all these questions at the first table, but by the end of the event, I felt like a pro and was able to easily answer their questions,” one student said.

The Chamber’s own student intern, Tim Zaman, participated in Match Day and will be placed at Kraft Foods Group on the upcoming Shadow Day.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Tim said. “I’ll get to go and shadow people in all areas of Kraft to see what happens behind the scenes in the company. That’s what everyone will get to do.”

Along with the rest of the Chamber staff, Tim was particularly pleased that he and his peers were able to get some high-quality interview experience and get their names out in the community with such reputable companies.

At the completion of Match Day, each student was assigned to a company for Job Shadow Day, with most receiving their first or second choice for placement. On Oct. 9, the students will report for duty to gain a little real-world insight and show off their determination and dedication to being future-ready.

The Garland Chamber is proud to be a partner with GISD in this unique and timely initiative. As employers throughout the nation face growing workforce challenges, the strong partnerships forged in Garland will continue to pursue the growth and sustainability of a well-qualified workforce.

The Chamber and GISD together extend sincere gratitude to the following companies for their support of GISD students and workforce development through participation in Match Day and Job Shadow Day.

  • City of Garland
  • Garland Independent School District
  • Garland Police Department & Fire Department
  • Garland Power & Light
  • Garrett Metal Detectors
  • Kraft Foods Group
  • Milano Hat Co., Inc.
  • Plastipak Packaging, Inc.
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