Students Sample Life in County Government

High school students job-shadow workers for Youth in Government Day

On Youth in Government Day, 80 students from high schools across San Joaquin County got a first-hand look at their local government, not just the role it plays in their day-to-day lives but as a place where they could one day find their careers.

The students shadowed county employees for a day. They learned what it was like to work in the Sheriff's Office, San Joaquin General Hospital, and some of the other higher profile departments in county government.

But the students also saw what it was like to work in the departments behind the scenes, like the Human Resources Department and the County Counsel's Office and Auditor-Controller's offices.

"We help them accomplish their mission," said Jennifer Goodman, principal personnel analyst for county Human Resources, before setting off on the day with a colleague to show two students the ropes.

Carlie, a Linden High student, said she signed up for Youth in Government Day to learn more about the range of options available to her in her future, which is why she picked the Auditor-Controller's Office "I just wanted to experience what government was like."

Auditor-Controller Jay Wilverding had a day planned that would give Carlie that well-rounded look at county government, he said. The day had just got started when the pair learned they had something in common: they both played the trombone.

Making personal connections with actual people doing the work of local government is one of the pieces of Youth in Government Day, which is organized by county government and the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE).

The students at this year's Youth in Government day on Nov. 1 came from be.tech, East Union, Lathrop, Manteca, Sierra, and Weston Ranch high schools (Manteca Unified School District); Health Careers Academy and Weber Institute (Stockton Unified School District); Millennium High School (chartered by Tracy Unified School District); Lincoln High School (Lincoln Unified School District); Linden High School (Linden Unified School District); Tokay High School (Lodi Unified School District); and Venture Academy Family of Schools (SJCOE).

"I think it's great. It gives them an opportunity to see what is going on," said Robert North, who was there to pick up his granddaughter after seeing her receive a certificate presented by officials from the SJCOE and the county Board of Supervisors. The students need to learn about local government, he said. "Because they are going to be our leaders one of these days."

For Max and Priti, two Venture Academy students on the school's Mock Trial team, the day made a real-world connection to what they were doing at school. They spent the day with the staff at the County Counsel's Office.

"We got to see the real applications of what we learned," Max said.

For Raiann, a senior at Sierra High, the day made her more confident in her decision to go into law. She went with the Public Defender's Office to observe a criminal court proceeding. It was real life with real-life stakes -- and nothing like she'd seen on television, she said.

"It boosted me even more. I'm so excited, now," she said.

Calista, a junior at Manteca High, picked HR to shadow, so she would have more perspective when planning for a future that could lead to management or leadership positions, she said. After spending the day with county HR, she said she could really see herself in that role, too, even when tough choices have to be made.

"As someone in HR, you have to be the kind of leader who can both say 'no' and say 'yes,'" she said.

Curiosity drove Hernan, a senior at Venture Academy, to pick HR.  He was interested in getting a new perspective on a character from the television show The Office, which includes a sometimes-maligned character from HR named Toby.

At the end of the day, Hernan said he understood that HR serves an important role, even when it's not popular. "I learned that Toby is not that bad a person."

Posted: 11/2/2018