Mentors Help 'Shadows' See Their Futures

By Catherine M. Radwan

On Feb. 2 groundhogs across the United States will not be alone in watching for their shadows. Half a million executives and business leaders will find themselves shadowed by students on Groundhog Job Shadow Day (GJSD), a nationwide workplace initiative that enables young people to spend one day on the job with business mentors in hundreds of professions and get up close and personal with real-work environments. Sponsored by a coalition consisting of America's Promise --The Alliance for Youth (led by retired Gen. Colin Powell), the National School-to-Work (STW) Office (jointly administered by the U.S. Depts. of Labor and Education), Junior Achievement, the American Society of Association Executives, and partners including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Information Technology Assn. of America, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Groundhog Job Shadow Day demonstrates for America's youth the relevant connection between academics and careers. STW reports that last year's first national effort matched 125,000 students from 50 states and the District of Columbia with public figures and individual executives representing more than 5,000 corporations, business organizations, and government agencies, including former President George Bush and his staff. This year the GJSD coalition, led by Executive Director Stuart Shapiro, plans to team 500,000 students with mentors who will provide first-hand work experience in business, professional, educational, technical, and industrial fields and encourage the participants to reflect upon future educational and career goals. Through these continuing partnerships that integrate school-based and work-based learning, says STW, schools and businesses can prepare today's youth to be intellectually competent, highly skilled employees of the next century who also are capable of corporate, community, and individual success. The GJSD coalition offers free materials to help companies establish these mentoring partnerships. For more information and a comprehensive how-to kit for Groundhog Job Shadow Day on Feb. 2, log on to the GJSD Web site, or call the National School-to-Work Office Learning & Information Center at 800-251-7236.

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