By Michael Zhao, Youth Commissioner, District 5
Earlier this year, the Valley Water Youth Commission sponsored a Job Shadow Day to help connect youth throughout Santa Clara County to the amazing careers available at Valley Water.
Job shadow days offer an immensely valuable opportunity for high school students to gain a sense of what kind of careers they may want to pursue in the future. It also allows them to build new connections with established professionals already in the workforce. That’s why the Valley Water Youth Commission opened this opportunity to everyone in the county.
On Feb. 20, over 40 students from more than 20 schools across the county attended Valley Water Job Shadow Day. After a general introduction to Valley Water over a complimentary breakfast, students participated in three rotations, including a panel discussion about college and career tips/experiences from current Valley Water employees, an educational activity about the water cycle, and a tour of the state-of-the-art Water Quality Lab.
Afterwards, students were matched with mentors based on personal career choices, including diverse fields such as law, finance, and ecology.
I shadowed Senior Biologist Zooey Diggory, who was especially kind and patient, and helped our group of four gain a better understanding of the kinds of work a biologist/ecologist would do.
She presented us with a case study analyzing the environmental impact of a theoretical construction project at the on-site Los Alamitos Percolation Ponds. Under her guidance, we scoped out the affected area and identified plants and animals that may be impacted, and formulated recommendations on how to avoid or mitigate any potential environmental harms. We toured her workspace and office building and asked her questions about her job.
Once every job shadow group finished, all the students reconvened at the Valley Water Boardroom to get pizza for lunch and recap what they had learned. Students were given official certificates as well as Valley Water mementos and walked away with a better understanding of how they could shape their future careers.
Valley Water Job Shadow Day 2020 was an amazing experience for everyone involved!