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School to Career and SEE Youth Programs put 128 students to work this summer

Speaking with the confidence of college-educated graduates five to six years older, Harmony Magnet Academy seniors Doug Murdock and Raymond Almanza described their summer work experience. "We have been working half-days on projects the firm is designing," says Raymond. "The other half of the day, we have been developing a project to enter into the Drylands Design Competition." This summer, the pair was placed at the architectural firm of Mangini Associates in Visalia as part of an intern partnership between the firm, Harmony Magnet Academy, the Tulare County Office of Education's School-to-Career Program and the Services for Education & Employment (SEE) Youth Program.

Student Summer Employment This year at Mangini's office, Doug and Raymond have gained work experience few architecture students attain until they have completed their degrees. The students have helped the firm prepare presentations for a new outreach center located on the Oval in downtown Visalia, a bus terminal converted from an old RV dealership in Los Banos and updating school site plans for Farmersville Unified. Using the language of architects, the students describe their work in preparing "as-built" drawings of a site, and creating CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) floor plans, elevations and presentation renderings.

Most impressive is their work in creating a project for the Drylands Design Competition. The competition is open to architects who want to propose an environmentally-sensitive project for a site in the Western U.S. that both conserves water and generates power. The students have envisioned the creation of a university on the shores of Lake Success in Porterville. Their project - called Polytechnic University of Porterville - would not only be a model of water conservation and energy generation, but a place where faculty and students enrolled in the college could conduct research. The university would also have a strong community outreach to the agricultural community and students in elementary, middle and high school.

One of the school's many innovative features is a water collection system. Doug described how the roof of the complex would capture fog during winter months funneling it across large sheets of temperature-controlled metal. "As the fog passes over the metal, it would form condensation, which the university could collect and use for sprinklers or flushing the toilets," he explains.

In developing their project, which they will complete this fall for entry in the competition, the students had the opportunity to meet with Porterville city officials, and structural, civil and electrical engineers. The internship has given Raymond and Doug real-world experience. "The process of introducing students from career pathways or academy programs to local businesses provides the ultimate career connection," says School to Career Project Director Randy Wallace. Mr. Wallace reports that students presented on their internship experience at a recent conference of the National Academy Foundation.

After graduation from Harmony Magnet Academy this spring, both students plan to attend four-year universities and study some type of engineering or architecture.

Mangini Associates' Gilbert Bareng conceived the internship between his firm and Harmony Magnet Academy, along with fellow architect Clay Taylor, who is now completing his master's degree in architecture at UCLA. "We are looking forward to next year and another group of interns," says Mr. Bareng. "We are interested in getting students involved in a project which addresses the needs of students with autism."

In other companies and agencies around the county, 128 young people began work in June through the SEE Summer Youth Program. SEE Youth Director Martha Alexandros reports that these young people are being employed in various positions offering 150 to 300 hours this summer and were referred to SEE Youth from high schools throughout the county. Their wages are being funded through Tulare County Workforce Investment Department and the County Board of Supervisors.

Student Summer Employment Prior to employment, young people received training on topics including workplace ethics, job safety and job readiness. In June, SEE Youth Job Developer Marilyn Willers conducted a training session for seven young women who were part of the Tulare Joint Union High School District's Health Careers Pathway Program based at Mission Oak High School. The students were scheduled to be placed in internships at the Tulare Regional Medical Center and the Tulare Community Health Clinic. At the session, Ms.  Willers explained workplace safety and appropriate appearance and attitude. "If you're in a bad mood some morning, check yourself before heading off to work. Leave your personal life at home," says Ms. Willers. Pathways director Steven Holdridge explained the importance of customer service at the hospital and the clinics. "There is zero tolerance for bad customer service," says Mr. Holdridge. "Patients may snap at you for seemingly no reason," he says. "They may be upset about their health, or worried about how they are going to pay their rent. Don't take it personally. Show them some empathy."

"We commend organizations such as the Tulare Regional Medical Center and Mangini Associates for their initiative in making a place for students in the workplace," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Their vision will have an immediate impact on the lives of the students they welcome."

For more information about business internships, contact Randy Wallace at (559) 733-6101.


Photos above:
~ (l-r) Doug Murdoch and Raymond Almanza pose in the conference room of Mangini Associates architects in Visalia. The students, who had an internship with the firm this summer, pose behind a model of the Porterville site they propose to use for a new polytechnic university focused on research in the fields of energy generation and water conservation.
~ SEE Youth's Marilyn Willers listens to students while conducting a job preparation training. Throughout this summer's session, seven Tulare students were placed in internships with the Tulare Regional Medical Center and three were placed at the Tulare Community Health Clinic.