By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
Its never too early to start thinking about what youre going to do with your life.
Every eighth grade student at Baker Middle School got to ditch class Thursday morning to focus attention on their upcoming workaday lives.
A group of area workers trained to do everything from repairing automobile engines to fixing aching backs served as their mentors.
It gets their attention focused on what they need to do to succeed in life, principal Dave Giles said. Most of these students dont have any idea what career theyll pursue, but the idea is you start early, raise their horizons, and help get them to take school seriously. Youve got to work to succeed in life.
Students chose class sessions from four of 24 presenters. Included were representatives of the U.S. Army and Marines, law enforcement officers, a rancher, nurse, teachers, mental health counselor, architect, and beauticians.
Veterinarian: Study hard
Dr. Brett Hamilton gave students a real-life scenario hed been dealing with a rottweiler whod swallowed a rock and couldnt pass it. He even brought the x-rays to illustrate the problem. Even an untrained eye could spot a rock lodged where it shouldnt be.
With a surgical procedure, Hamilton removed the rock and the portion of the rottweilers gut that had died. He expected his client to go home Friday.
My job is something that anybodys capable of, he told students. You just have to work hard and get good grades.
Hamilton has been in practice at Baker Veterinary Hospital for 10 years, long enough for some of my first clients to get old.
He said one of the most compassionate services he performs is euthanizing peoples pets.
If we live long enough, well all die from organ failure, and its the same for dogs and cats and horses, he said. I dont enjoy it, but I see the pain that people and their animals go through. (Euthanizing animals) is a kind and sometimes wonderful thing. Death sometimes occurs much later than we would like.
His very favorite task? Vaccinating puppies.
Its the coolest thing, he said. People are excited because theyre new pet owners, and the puppies are usually excited, too.
Banker: That first job counts
Students interested in a career in banking might do well to follow Todd Roseboroughs career path.
Roseborough is now a personal banker and loan officer at Pioneer Bank, but he went to work as a teller while still in graduate school.
The most important thing in my business is to enjoy the public, and tellering is a completely customer-oriented job, he said. They see the customers every day, and they are peoples perception of what the bank really is.
Roseborough explained to students the factors that go into his decision whether to approve a loan. Its more than just looking at a loan application and credit history, he said. Its judging an applicants character.
Character is something you grow into, he told students. One kid came to me for a loan who was pierced and tattooed. My first inclination was to say no way, but then I got to know him. Hes paid his loan back very well.
Character is the most important thing in arranging a loan. I have to ask myself, Will they work their way out of it if theres a problem?
Roseborough also had some advice for securing what is typically a students very first loan: the money to buy that first car.
Youll have to get a co-signer for your first car loan, but it helps if you get a small credit card, use it slightly, and pay it back every month, he said, in order to start developing ones credit history.
Mechanic: No dropouts allowed
Dusty Christensen, who owns Precision Import Auto Repair, said he initially went to college to wrestle. But along the way he discovered he had a knack for all things mechanical while taking a shop class.
So I bagged wrestling, finished a two-year technical school, and went to work right away, he said. The classes werent difficult, as long as I paid attention. I already understood how equipment works, and they taught me the theory behind it.
It used to be that high school dropouts could become mechanics, but automobile engines are now so sophisticated each has seven or eight computers, Christensen said that dropouts are now relegated to grease monkey jobs like packing wheel bearings.
You have to be a quality thinker to fix broken cars, he said. Today quitting high school simply is not an option.
I wasnt the greatest student, but I care a great deal about excellence in my career. All the tools in the world are no good without a mind to use them.
Tools are something Christensen knows a great deal about. He owns an estimated $50,000 worth of hand tools.
Christensen told students theyll never really finish school. Youll just graduate to a higher level of learning.
Legal investigator: Clear reporting is a must
Dennis Beyer cant quite believe his good fortune. One time he got paid to listen to a witness while on a fishing trip.
It was beyond fun, he said of the trip. But I still had to have the skill and training to write a clear, factual report.
Legal investigators can work in many fields, he told students, including accounting, insurance, government agencies and law enforcement.
What he enjoys least about his job is the aspect thats typical of most TV detective series: surveillance.
You set up for hours looking at people, wait for the right one, and then follow him, he said. Ive worn wigs and funky hats while doing surveillance anything to avoid being caught.
Beyer said hes seen surveillance vans outfitted with so much listening equipment inside that they look like something out of Star Wars.
Most surveillance work, he said, is funded by insurance companies.
They dont like to pay people who are trying to rip them off, he said.
Beyer was an English major in college and spent years in law enforcement before turning to investigations.
I used to read encyclopedias for fun, he said. Youd be surprised, for example, how much insects can teach you about crime scenes. And the medical field is fascinating. If you dont know the answer, find somebody who does.
If you cant convince the judge, the district attorney, and the other attorneys involved that your information is accurate, youre out of luck. You wont get hired, and your career will be over.
Beyer told students about a recent success story. In a case in another county, he helped prove that his courtroom opponents had doctored a video that indicated a three-hour automobile trip could be made in a snowstorm in ... minus nine minutes.
Jobs for young people
After hearing the presentations, students assembled to hear from literacy advocate Bob Evans and Sharla Erickson from the Oregon State Employment Department.
Erickson distributed a real-life resume from a 14-year-old Canadian girl. It described just about any job a teenager can hold, from babysitting and car-washing to lawn care and even a stint as a volunteer hair model in a hair salon.
Employers are taking a chance when they hire a young person, she said. Now is your time to show them you have something to offer them.