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The City Journals

Sandy high schoolers shadow professionals to learn about careers

Apr 09, 2018 10:32AM ● By Julie Slama

Local students and mentors of the Larry H. Miller companies pose with chief operating officer Gail Miller, who spoke at Canyons School District’s recent annual career and technical education job shadow day. (Kirsten Stewart/Canyons School District)

Alta High senior Ashlyn Martell spent a recent morning learning from legal experts at eBay. 

“They showed me how they got there, step by step, and about their responsibilities about being an in-house lawyer,” she said.

Her schoolmate, junior Lindsey Steensma, learned from the human resources division while Jordan High sophomore Fatima Zambrano learned about event planning at eBay.

“It was different than I thought,” Zambrano said. “I learned a lot and am glad I got to do this.”

These students were three of about 100 who took part in the event, which had representatives from 40 companies. Students spent the morning job shadowing professionals in fields such as marketing, architecture, medicine, finance and others before networking with them during lunch.

Canyons Superintendent Jim Briscoe applauded students for getting a jumpstart in researching possible careers.

“This will make a huge difference as you move on after high school; you’ll have this experience to know if these careers are your passion and a field you want to pursue,” he said.

Canyons District CTE Coordinator Patti Larkin said this job shadow opportunity linked students from all five Canyons traditional high schools as well as Canyons Technical Education Center with larger companies, such as eBay, O.C. Tanner, Larry H. Miller companies and Hunt Electronics, which supported the job shadow day and allowed students to explore careers in engineering, IT, medicine and diesel.

Keynote luncheon speaker, Gail Miller, oversees 11,000 people in 80 companies in 46 states as chief operating officer of Larry H. Miller companies. 

She was a silent partner in the family business until her husband, Larry, died of complications of diabetes in 2009.

“I certainly didn’t need the headache of running a business that large, and I didn’t need the money,” she told students, but it was the responsibility of continuing the family legacy and values she wanted to continue.

Of the values Miller mentioned, she told students, “Treat employees and customers and those with whom you interact with respect. You’re not better than anyone else so treat them with kindness you’d want in return. People are our most valuable asset.”

Miller, who keeps money in perspective (“use it wisely so you don’t become a slave to it”), also told students, “don’t forget your roots — where you can from — that’s where your values come from and that is part of you.” 

She recalled how they started out with one Toyota dealership in Murray before expanding to more than 60 car dealerships as well as professional sports teams, movie theaters and more. Miller still owns the original dealership today.

“Give back to the community and pay it forward. No one can make it alone; the success belongs to those who also contribute,” she said, adding that they should share the knowledge they’ve learned as well as ask for help along the way. “Don’t be afraid to lead. Be a student always; learn something every day to add richness to your life.”

Canyons Board of Education member Nancy Tingy said the job shadowing career opportunity was beneficial to students.

“These community members support our students and give them the opportunity to receive valuable experience,” she said.

Miller challenged students to not only to think about their paths, but to improve those around them.

“Wherever you go and whatever you do, do something that makes a difference in this world,” she said. “Light your fire and while looking for your success, help others who are doing the same thing.”