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Students catch glimpse of their futures through Groundhog Job Shadow Day

February 02, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

Justin Gallegos wants to go into the Army, but when he watches "The FBI Files" on television he thinks maybe, just maybe, the Federal Bureau of Investigation could use a kid like him among its ranks.

Justin, 12, and other students touring El Centro's FBI offices, were some of about 500 students from across Imperial County visiting local businesses today as part of the area's third annual Groundhog Job Shadow Day.

The nationwide event brings students up close to careers of their interest by partnering professionals and kids for the day.

Veterinarians, architects and law enforcement officers joined nearly 100 other local businesses volunteering to participate in this year's event.

Dispelling some of the myths surrounding the profession and telling kids what they need to know to pursue such a job are two big parts of Groundhog Job Shadow Day.

"I don't think any job is what you see in movies. There's a lot of hard work involved," said Robert Sellers, supervisory senior resident agent of the El Centro FBI office.

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Sellers stressed the importance of seeking higher education, no matter what career field students decide to enter.

"The key is mostly encouraging these young people to do the best they can," Sellers said.

"They're smart kids," Sellers said of students coming through on Groundhog Job Shadow Day.

"I think if you talk down to them, they'll sense that. We tell them how it is in here straight up, and they sense that, too," Sellers said.

Important for joining the FBI and other organizations, agents told kids to stay out of trouble with the law and to avoid drugs.

As one agent explained, it was impossible to hide skeletons in her closet during the 11-month period between filling out her first application and actually being hired, as agents did extensive background checks on her.

"They'll find out everything. They'll talk to everyone you ever knew," the agent said, exaggerating only slightly.

Justin, a seventh-grader at Holtville's Pine School, said television was his biggest motivator in wanting to learn more about the FBI.

"I want to learn how to solve mysteries, like, what to look for and stuff," Justin said.

Michelle Morris, 15, a sophomore at Calipatria High School, said she thinks the day at the FBI may help her in her chosen career field.

"I want to be a forensic scientist," Michelle said.

She was at the FBI today to learn "stuff that'll help me later, hopefully."

Students aren't the only ones profiting from the shadow experience.

"It's a benefit to the FBI and students because maybe, eight years down the line, we may get a quality applicant out of it. It may also deter someone from becoming a criminal," Sellers said.

Staff Writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

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