Program Preps Teens for Post-Grad Life, Possible Healthcare Careers
Mar 11, 2024
Ashley Boarman
A teenage girl pulls game activities from shelf

High school senior Canari’s resume is already chock-full of real-world work experience. Her on-the-job learning is part of ICA Cristo Rey Academy’s Corporate Work Study program. In it, the 17-year-old spends Mondays at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center’s Kalmanovitz Child Development Center in San Francisco where she works as a student associate. Here, she’s responsible for inputting data, disinfecting toys, and setting up physical and occupational therapy spaces. She also gets to observe patient appointments.

School photo of a young teenage girl in a uniform

Canari is a senior at ICA’s Cristo Rey Academy in San Francisco.

“She’s one of the team!” says Karen Norman, KCDC clinical manager.

Norman, who oversees the program for CPMC, says Sutter Health makes the partnership possible through a $40,000 annual contribution to ICA supporting tuition for four student interns.

“It’s mutually beneficial in that it gives the students hand-on job training while also providing staff with extra support,” Norman says.

This year, behind Canari, there’s junior Katrina, sophomore Brianna and freshman Alejandra. Each teen spends one day a week working to fulfill their work-study requirement.

Work Experience Opens Doors to Possible Careers in Healthcare

Youth often choose to follow in a parent’s career footsteps because that’s what they were exposed to growing up. Norman says work-study operates in a similar capacity. “Being a student associate can serve as a pivotal moment in a teen’s academic and career journey. At the KCDC, it may even be the spark that ignites a long-term passion for a job in healthcare.”

Norman’s on to something. Canari says she hopes to become a lawyer one day, but her time at the KCDC has made her think about a different path.

A teenage girl sits at a desk

Katrina, a junior at ICA Cristo Rey Academy, sits at her desk at CPMC’s Kalmanovitz Child Development Center in San Francisco.

“It’s been enjoyable and the staff are really nice. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to build my professional skills here,” she says.

For junior Katrina, who aspires to be a nurse, she also recognizes the value of getting to see a variety of healthcare jobs in action.

“This experience has opened my eyes to other careers in medicine,” she says. “I didn’t know some babies need physical therapy in order to reach developmental milestones … and I just love babies! Being able to watch over patient sessions has taught me a lot.”

One recent day, Katrina was working on a project collecting local resources and events for patients and families. She says she appreciates working on projects that add value.

Building Self-Esteem and Soft Skills

Beyond the job duties, working in a professional environment is also a confidence boost for these young women. Time in an office grants the teens an opportunity to build important soft skills like time management, presentation skills and receiving feedback. For these students, whether learning to communicate more professionally through speech and email or learning new computer systems and processes, they each expressed feeling more comfortable in the workplace through the program.

“This experience has helped me grow out of my shell. I used to be shy about asking questions and sharing my ideas but I’m much more confident now,” Katrina says.

According to Erika Rangal, director of ICA’s Corporate Work Study program, the private, all-girls school partners with 95 Bay Area companies to offer work study placements across a variety of industries, including healthcare. “We are grateful to Sutter’s CPMC for the opportunity to collaborate as we help develop this pipeline of strong, diverse and talented women ready for the workforce or higher education,” she says.

CPMC’s KCDC has partnered with ICA Cristo Rey since 2011.

“We had to stop work study during the pandemic for safety reasons,” recounts Norman, “but all the staff couldn’t wait to get the students back. It was so apparent we needed them for the value and energy they bring.”

And you never know who will make their way back, she adds.

Former ICA students Jennifer Munoz and Gianella Altamirano currently work at the KCDC as patient service representatives.

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