Beloit Turner students get hands-on career insight

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Gina Duwe
Friday, March 8, 2013

— From the grocery floor to the kitchen cupboards to the walk-in freezer, a group of Beloit Turner High School students got the inside scoop on how food is prepared at Bushel & Peck's Local Market in downtown Beloit on Thursday afternoon.

Head chef Matthew Porter explained everything from the food science courses he completed for his culinary degree at Blackhawk Technical College to how the cucumbers need to be cut into -inch slices for the thousands of jars of pickling the market makes.

“It's all about having a good team and communicating,” Porter said, adding it takes a lot of hard work.

The students were part of Turner's job shadowing this week. This is the first year all 111 juniors are spending a couple hours with a local business in their anticipated career field, said Katie Williams, Turner High School counselor.

Ever since Abigail Fleener was little, she said she's wanted to go to culinary school and own her own restaurant.

“I think it would be fun and a good experience,” said Fleener, who has been trying to get a job at any kind of restaurant.

She's more excited about her career choice after spending a couple hours with a chef.

It's been Williams' goal the last couple years to increase career exploration and development, she said. She meets with sophomores and their parents each year and tells them they need to job shadow or volunteer, she said.

The students at Bushel & Peck's agreed.

“I'm glad they did this for us because I probably wouldn't have done it,” said Mason Sheetz.

The tour got him excited about cooking, and he learned a lot, he said.

Williams worked with business teacher Megan Nelson to find matches for students to learn from about 15 local employers.

Students were excited for the opportunity, Williams said, and she even had seniors upset that they didn't get to do it.

Cameron Bejarano wants to be a chef and someday open a family restaurant.

“For me, this is a great experience to prepare for the future,” he said during Thursday's tour.

Torence Fuentes said he knows he likes working with his hands, so he's considering a career in mechanics, but he also wanted to see what culinary arts would be like.

“I like learning how things are made,” he said.

The high school in the past has taken students to career days where professionals talk about their jobs, but Williams said those just aren't as meaningful.

“They really wanted to see firsthand what they're interested in, if that is a good fit or not,” she said. “Even if the student finds it is not a good fit, at least they got something out of it and saved time in the long run.”

Williams worked with the students in English class to prepare resumes earlier this week. They talked about acting professionally and creating questions for interviews. After the job shadows, they will write a reflection about how they benefited from the experience.

Last updated: 7:58 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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