Thursday, September 9, 2010

CCCOE's Summer Jobs Program Student Interns Learned First Hand about Career Life

While many of their classmates were enjoying the pleasures of summer vacation, high school students Benjamin Quach, William Quach, and Carlos Rivera were working hard, and learning applicable education and employment skills at BioCare Medical, in Concord. These three young men were enrolled in the CCCOE Contra Costa Youth@Work Summer Program. "It's so inspiring to see these three young men thrive and do so well with their jobs here at BioCare," says CCCOE Youth Development Specialist Oscar Blackwell. These three summer interns were just a few of the many Contra Costa high school students Blackwell works with directly, throughout the year.

Headquartered in Concord, Calif., BioCare Medical is an innovator in advanced care and diagnosis technologies to aid physicians to correctly diagnose challenging cancers. This was the second year the company has participated in the program.

"Students who qualify for Contra Costa Youth@Work program come from low-income homes, are in foster care, or qualify for Special Education," says CCCOE Youth Development Services (YDS) Manager Catherine Giacalone. "Whether they are flourishing, or not, in their classrooms, the majority of our summer program students demonstrate a capacity to be very successful in the work area." Without such a program, many of these students would not have the chance to work at such a company as BioCare Medical. This hands-on learning opportunity certainly sparks their interest and enthusiasm about their personal education and career paths.

With funding from the Contra Costa Workforce Development Board, YDS has developed county-wide work-site partnerships and hired staff to develop and implement an innovative and successful summer employment program. During summer 2010, 280 students each worked 132 hours, at $8.25 an hour.

Oscar Blackwell with Ygnacio studentsLeft to right, William and Benjamin Quach, and Oscar Blackwell, YDS specialist, in the lab at Bio Care.

Brothers, Benjamin and William, served as BioCare manufacturing assistants, working with the company's testing solutions, carefully mixing and filling containers for shipment. They both agreed that working with health care company was certainly an outstanding opportunity to be employed in a field related to their career choice, serving as medical doctors.

Older brother, William Quach, recently graduated from Ygnacio Valley High School, with an impressive 4.35 grade average. Through William's hard work and success, he earned an undergraduate scholarship to enter U.C. Davis this fall to study pre-medicine, with a concentration in neuroscience behavior physiology.

Younger brother, Benjamin Quach, entered his sophomore year this fall at Ygnacio Valley High School. Like his big brother, Benjamin's schedule of classes will be filled with honors courses, including pre-calculus. In addition, he joined the school's Health Academy. His goal is to begin his pre-medicine studies at Stanford University, after graduating high school.

Carlos RiveraCarlos Rivera (at right) and his mother came to the United States three years ago, from Puerto Rico. This summer, Carlos worked in BioCare Medical's accounting department. The junior at Mt. Diablo High School, will continue attending courses in the school's Architecture, Construction, Manufacturing and Engineering, (ACME) Academy. After high school, Carlos says he will attend Diablo Valley College, then transfer to University of California, Berkeley, where he will study to become an electronic engineer. But this past summer, he enjoyed his work in the accounting department. When asked if he saw any similarities to accounting and electronic engineering, Carlos quickly smiled and answered, "Yes, lots of numbers!"

Adding more about the importance of the summer work program, Giacalone says, "A key predictor of consistent employment in adulthood is early exposure to the world of work through summer and year-round employment, internships, and service opportunities in the teen years. Teen employment exposes youth to careers, promotes job readiness, and develops their skills in particular industries."

After meeting with his three students, Blackwell beamed with pride on how well they are doing with their work, as well as blending in so easily with the BioCare Medical staff and management: "These three young men share many of the same qualities to become successful in life. Their work here really showcases how bright and motivated they are!"