Discovering Careers in Unusual Places

Debbie DeJesus knows what it looks, sounds and feels like inside the Onondaga County Correctional Facility at Jamesville. After spending a day visiting -- the way that guards and staff members worked to help inmates impressed her --she was inspired to change her major from general studies to criminal justice...“It was really different than what I expected to see,” said DeJesus, 20, of Syracuse. She was looking for a career that would allow her to use her people skills, and the day she spent at the penitentiary on a job shadow arranged through Onondaga’s Career and Applied Learning Center (CAL Center for short) showed her a path to a new profession, she said.

“Job shadows that match students with working professionals often can help students decide which careers are best for them,” said Rose Martens, internship coordinator at the CAL Center. According to Martens, the center arranged 10 job shadows for students in the last academic year including Upstate Surgical Group, the Waterfront Tavern restaurant in Brewerton and Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

“But job shadows are just one way the CAL Center helps students,” Martens said. The center, located on the first floor of Mawhinney Hall, gives students career information, coaches them in writing résumés, helps prepare them for job interviews, and provides an online job-openings list. Martens said she hopes more Onondaga students will take advantage of what the CAL Center offers. “It’s important for students to experience

Two Onondaga students -- Kenan Alexander, 20, and Raymond Blackwell, 19, of Syracuse, immersed themselves this summer at Universal Music Group’s Def Jam Recordings, an epicenter of hip-hop culture in Manhattan. CAL Center staff members helped them land the internships and supported them through the experience.

They spent the summer reporting on which TV networks and radio stations were playing videos of the label’s artists. Jay-Z, the former CEO of Def Jam, was one of the music industry icons that Kenan saw this summer on the job.

“The internship really helped me understand how much dedication it takes to make it,” said Kenan. “I’m really grateful for that.” “This was a great experience! I learned so much – I know I’ll spend the rest of my life working in the music industry. It’s definitely my passion.” said Raymond Blackwell, ’09, business administration.