Bradley Central High School students Justin Parris and Emily Blackburn sharpened their prepping and culinary skills while job shadowing Cafe Roma owner Shanon Ritzhaupt and his team.
The students were two of several juniors who participated in the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce job shadowing program this year.
Students were paired with local businesses or organizations that fit their potential career interests. Some visited local businesses. Others visited schools or churches, each getting to see what someone in their desired field does.
Emily Blackburn, who has been involved in BCHS’s culinary program for two years, said she appreciates the opportunities to expand her skills.
“I guess I’ve always sort of loved cooking. So when I got into high school and found out they had a culinary program, I decided to go out on a limb and take it,” she said. “It’s really just become my passion.”
Comments about the business from her culinary teacher Richmond Flowers had Blackburn excited to be job shadowing in the restaurant’s kitchen.
During their time in the kitchen, students were able to make crème brûlée and help prep cheese and vegetables for lunch.
The student said she enjoyed seeing “what it (culinary arts) is like in the real world.”
“I plan on going to culinary school — either Sullivan (University) or Le Cordon Bleu (College of Culinary Arts),” Blackburn said.
She said the experience of job shadowing had given her new skills she would use in the future.
Blackburn said her favorite part of the kitchen is working the grill.
Parris said he enjoys every aspect of food preparation.
“I just like cooking,” Parris said.
He said he became interested in the culinary program at Bradley Central because his sister was a part of it.
Although he has not picked a college or program he wants to pursue, Parris said he definitely wants to have a culinary career.
He said he enjoyed job shadowing because it allowed him to see what happens in the back of the restaurant.
In between preparing entrees, Ritzhaupt said the restaurant has been a part of the job-shadowing program for at least seven years.
“It’s just important for kids to come see the field that they might be going into as a career and practical experience seeing what it is all about,” Ritzhaupt said.
“I never had that opportunity as a student. I would have loved to had a chance to visit the newspaper, the dentist office or a restaurant to see if that was something that I wanted to do.
One of Café Roma’s past job shadow students later became an employee of the restaurant.
Ritzhaupt said he focuses on giving students a broad view of the field during the four hours they spend with him.
“If they are interested in owning a restaurant, then there’s management, there’s payroll and there’s taxes. There are a lot of other skills that you need to have besides cooking,” Ritzhaupt said. “I just try to let them know that cooking is just a small part of running a business.”
Meanwhile across town two other local juniors were learning what it takes to be a veterinarian technicians.
Bradley Central students Shania Watson and Walker Valley High School student MacKenzie Elrod job shadowed Dr. Brad Huttenhoff at the Appalachian Animal Clinic.
“Ever since I was little, I wanted to do stuff with animals,” Watson said. “I just figured out recently that I want to be a vet technician.”
Elrod shares a love for animals and thinks being a veterinarian technician would give her a “fun job” where she could help animals.
Watson and Elrod said they enjoyed getting to see what a veterinarian technician does.
Elrod is already preparing for her future career by taking veterinary science classes at Walker Valley.
Huttenhoff said the clinic had been a part of the job-shadowing program for about 10 years.
“We just enjoy having students come in and let them see things that they haven't seen before,” Huttenhoff said. “They get to watch surgery, they get to watch blood samples being drawn. They get to watch examinations. I explain different procedures to them.”
He said he enjoyed seeing the students’ perspective as they watched what happens at the clinic.
Huttenhoff has been a veterinarian for 34 years. His journey to the career began with showing cattle in high school.
Each year businesses and organizations that have participated in the past are contacted to see if they would like to continue participating.
Sherry Crye, the chamber’s director of workforce development, said she compares the list of students participating with businesses that have agreed to have students visit. If there are any students’ interests that do not have a corresponding location, she calls partners to set up a location for those students.
To participate in the program, students must be a junior in high school, and must have taken courses related to the field in which they have an interest. They also have to submit an application and receive a teacher recommendation.
“I think this is one of the most important programs we do at the chamber,” Crye said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for them as juniors to see if they like this field before they do four years of college and find out they don’t like it.”
The Chamber schedules one day for Cleveland High School students and one day for Bradley Central and Walker Valley students.