It's rare for a high school student to know exactly what they want to be when they grow up or to predict their career path at such a young age. But having the opportunity to learn more about potential, local career opportunities can help them start thinking about their future. Spending time with professionals in a variety of fields can not only provide students with insight into the purpose, function and goals of the different disciplines they are exposed to, but also the personalities, principles and cultures that define the workplace and corporate structure of an employer.
Marcellus shale driller Range Resources recently began hosting a series of Job Shadow events for students from across Washington County. Range's Christina Colalillo is one of the organizers.
“Relationships with school districts here in Washington County are very important to Range, and we want to do our part in supporting the region's future workforce,” says Christina. “We want students to know that there are great career paths related to the natural gas industry right here at home.”
Christina emphasizes the importance of the relationship with educators and administrators as well. “We want to make sure that teachers are aware of all of the opportunities, so that they can share information with students. We also want them to attend Job Shadow events too, and feel comfortable asking questions. Finally, whether or not students end up working in this industry, we are happy to be part of an effort to educate them about opportunities here in Washington County.”
Last week, Range employees from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines spent time with students from Canon-McMillan and Avella high schools. The students were given an up close look at the different jobs within a company like Range Resources, and talked with employees about everything from rock qualities and operations, to transporting gas and even social media. After a morning filled with small group presentations, students talked with a panel of five Range employees who delved even deeper into occupations beyond high school. The panel answered a variety of questions from the students, shared their experiences from high school through their current career path, and talked about career options in the industry. Panelist also went over options that depend on four-year degree as well as other paths to family-sustaining jobs in the trades or service industry.
Natalie Johnson teaches Business Management at Canon-McMillan High School. “My students loved seeing the actual work that a person in each of the departments was responsible for,” says Johnson. “They loved the interaction and the chance to meet and talk with Range employees.”
Avella School Counselor Alex Nikolopoulos was also glad his students were able to participate. “The overall experience at the Range Resources Job Shadow was fantastic. The employees not only demonstrated to students how to pursue their field as a career, but also explained what type of person would be a good match. The staff's willingness to put their demanding duties on hold and to speak to students at length shows their dedication to the community.”
The students were also glad they participated, later saying:
The job shadow at Range Resources was a wonderful opportunity. I originally intended to discover more about electrical engineering but left with a new interest in petroleum engineering. As a woman, pursuing a career in a male dominated field sounds a bit scary, but the strong women that I encountered at Range encouraged me to pursue a degree in engineering and to be confident in my own abilities and the possibilities of my future.
Victoria, Senior at Avella Junior/Senior High School
What I enjoyed the most when I visited Range Resources were the employees. They were very inviting to their work space, and explained their duties well. Also, at the end of our session we got to sit in with five employees from Range Resources and they told us how they got there. We were able to ask how to do something that we want to accomplish in life and they gave us their best opinion on how to get there.
Frank, Sophomore at Avella Junior/Senior High School
Range Resources will host another Job Shadow event in late March with students from Fort Cherry High School. In addition to the new Job Shadow program, Range Resources continues to actively support educational programs across Washington County, including: 4H and FFA at the Washington County Fair Junior Livestock Sale, the Challenge Program and Junior Achievement, among others.