Professional Pursuits

Students explore career paths through jobs, shadowing and internships
Junior Snigdha Shenoy shadowed at Dr. Rajashree Prasad’s dental office over winter break.
Junior Snigdha Shenoy shadowed at Dr. Rajashree Prasad’s dental office over winter break.
Snigdha Shenoy

After school each day, some students might go home to do their homework. Other students may have to go to sports practice or band rehearsals. But some students choose a third option: working part-time jobs or internships. 

According to a survey by Gallup, 58% of high school students believe their school has not sufficiently helped them develop strong career skills. Junior Jackson Haig, who now works at Mighty Fine Burgers, found his own career opportunity after talking to his friends about getting a job. 

“About a day later I scheduled my interview,” Haig said. “I was anxious at first and I thought it went well, but I realized it went great when the manager offered me the job at the end.”

Some local organizations open their doors to high schoolers. One example is the Northwest Austin Family Dentistry, which has offered students job shadowing opportunities in the past.

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“I believe that every individual needs an opportunity to learn and observe and know what they are intending to do,” general dentist Dr. Rajashree Prasad said. “I really enjoy having a student [shadowing me] because they are curious, they are inquisitive, and they want to learn. I feel like I am the medium for them to learn, and I also go an extra mile to explain about what procedures I’m doing, and try to give them an insight about the dental career.”

By being exposed to as many different fields as they can, students might discover a new career interest at any time. For Prasad, going into dentistry was inspired by her own experiences with the field. At 13 years old, she was in an accident and broke her front tooth, prompting her to get a series of root canal and crown treatments.

“I really observed that profession very closely during my own experiences, and I feel like that struck a chord right there,” Prasad said. “Then, later, when it was time to apply for different professions there was dentistry and the medical field, which I was interested in. And of course, I was leaning more towards dentistry because I myself was a dental patient and had a lot of treatment.”

Career exploration can teach students important life skills, even when they might not necessarily end up pursuing the same field they explored in high school. Junior Sophia Ferring was able to gain some of these skills from her part-time job at In-N-Out.

“I’ve gained a lot of customer service skills and talked to people a lot better,” Ferring said. “[It helps] everywhere at school, especially when talking to teachers and authority figures.”

Sophomore Sanvi Chaukade works at the Kumon Math and Reading Center, teaching children ranging from kindergartners to other high schoolers. By having jobs and experiences that relate to STEM and teaching, Chaukade can illustrate her dedication to colleges and future employers.

“It shows I’ve been working with people and communicating with people and really just interacting and doing something on a [weekly] basis,” Chaukade said. “It shows I’m really committing to something and spending time and effort on it.”

The first step to acquiring any career experience is to keep an eye out for opportunities.

“Anything is possible if you try,” Chaukade said. “You really just have to research, look into what you’re interested in, and there will always be opportunities for you around. You just have to interact and talk with more people with experience and you’ll find your way.”

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