On Friday, Jan. 31, the Carol Sletto Job Shadowing program provided Robertson County students with real life experiences in professional fields they showed interest in pursuing.
Sponsored by the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce, this program allowed 180 junior and senior students from the county and South Haven Christian School to explore possible careers and gain valuable experience in a professional setting. Students were required to submit all necessary paper work by a deadline in order to qualify.
Robertson County Chamber of Commerce President Jordan Osborne explained that the job shadowing application required students to pick their top three career choices, and the chamber would work to match them with their top choice. Thanks to partnerships with businesses throughout the county, most students were matched with their top career interest.
“The high school counselors and administration are incredibly important in providing the connection between the students and this opportunity, and the employers who participate in this opportunity deserve a great deal of thanks for their willingness to stop production and spend the day with our students,” Osborne said.
Osborne explains this program was started in the mid 90’s by educator and community advocate Carol Sletto who was part of the Education Committee for the Springfield-Robertson County Chamber of Commerce. The program was stopped when Sletto retired until Robertson Education Initiative was formed. Director of REdI Kathy Gunn began working with the county schools to start the program once again.
When the REdI separated from the Chamber of Commerce in 2018, their board decided to focus on other programs while the chamber took over the job shadowing program to continue it in Robertson County.
“This opportunity may appear rather simple and easy however, it is the single most time-consuming project we do at the chamber,” Osborne said. “There are probably 150 hours of work that go into managing the database of students, contacting individual employers, communicating with the students about their specific opportunity, collecting all the necessary permission slips and paperwork on the employers behalf and then finally, confirming with the employer which students completed the necessary paperwork and will be participating on the big day.
“And this doesn’t really account for all of the opportunities that need to take place outside of the event day, such as time with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.”
In April, the TBI hosts a forensics day for high school students interested in pursuing forensics as a career. The county’s Career and Technical Education programs and job shadowing opportunities, as well as the 8th grade career fair have made impressive changes in the past years to develop skills to allow children to be successful after graduation.
“We know one of the greatest needs our business community has is a qualified workforce. Providing opportunities for students to spend a day at with one of our employers creates opportunity for exposure for the student and the employer and allows for a relationship to form which could be mutually beneficial,” Osborne said.