With 35 different Academies in 12 high schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools students have a world of career opportunities to explore in order to make informed decisions about life after high school. Academy Coaches, counselors and teachers help them navigate pathways and classes, and PENCIL’s business and community Partners give them a “day in the life” look at a field of interest through on the ground experiences, a signature piece to the program.
Job shadows are just one way that students explore a particular field. Asa Bradley, Academy Coach at McGavock, sees students’ confidence growing by working with partners. “Excitement grows to go and try new things,” she says. “It opens their mindset, opens their world, and shows them anything is possible.” The effect is the same whether a student is interested in a four-year degree or not because they all identify a career path.
PENCIL Partner Omni Nashville is currently giving a behind-the-scenes look at the hospitality industry to 32 students in the Hospitality and Tourism Management pathways at McGavock and Hunters Lane high schools. The job shadow program just happens to be managed by two MNPS graduates who are thrilled to be giving back. “What we have going on with PENCIL is a great thing,” says Omni Nashville HR Manager and Whites Creek alum Erin Farmer. “The kids are excited; we’re excited; and the Omni loves to give back to its community.”
Venantius Beard, recently promoted to Omni Nashville’s Director of Front Office, is a graduate of McGavock’s Hospitality and Tourism Management pathway in the Academy of Hospitality and Finance. “My internship at Gaylord was a lifetime opportunity that led to a lifetime decision,” he explains. “It’s a full circle moment. I see myself in them” after reeling off a list of teachers who supported him in the process.
Erin and Venantius planned the program, dividing the students into eight groups of four for maximum impact during their monthly visits. The groups visit catering and sales, housekeeping, the front desk, and more as they rotate though the departments. Every visit includes lunch in the employee cafeteria, which boasts the tastiest steam table in the city. Lunch also gives Erin some priceless one-on-one time and mentoring moments with the students.
General Manager Scott Stuckey shares Erin’s and Venantius’s enthusiasm for the job shadows. In fact, the three enjoy being a PENCIL Partner so much that they are already planning next year’s job shadow program. Being an Academy PENCIL Partner can open a world of opportunity for a high school student and be just as rewarding for those who provide experiences. If you are interested in learning more about hosting a job shadow, attend an upcoming PENCIL info session – visit pencilforschools.org/partners/ to sign up for a session.