BARSTOW Sixteen-year-old Erika Plascencia got hired at the Marine Corps Logistics Base on Wednesday.

Well, kind of.

The Barstow High School 11th-grader and 14 other students went through the new hire process at the base everything from filling out personal history paperwork to getting a run-down of base security protocol as part of the first day of a six-week job shadowing program through Barstow High School's Mojave XP Academy.

The group of students had to get through a stack of paperwork before they get split off into different departments on base, like environmental specialization to accounting, but Plascencia said she didn't mind.

"Working for the government is important, so it's good," said Plascencia, who will be working in the shipments department but said she hopes to pursue a career in the future involving graphic or interior design.

Others were anxious to get past the new hire process.

"I thought today we would have more hands-on experience, instead of just signing forms and processing paperwork," said Rica Bennett, an 11th-grader.

The academy exposes students to careers in logistics, transportation and other fields through job shadowing programs and field trips, and consists of Barstow High School sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Overall, about 20 students are shadowing different professions ranging from an entrepreneur to a reporter at the Desert Dispatch with the majority shadowing work at the MCLB.

The academy, which began at the high school last year, is set up through a Glendale-based nonprofit called International Trade Education Programs.

While students have participated in one-day job shadowing events, this is the first year that the teens are getting more on-the-job exposure and mentoring, according to Gary Johnson, BHS math teacher and program coordinator.

The goal of the six-week program, Johnson said, is two-fold: to help students define their career goals with the knowledge of what's available locally, and to allow them to see what is expected in a professional environment.

One student raised concerns about his own criminal history, and base officials responded by emphasizing the importance of keeping a clean record when trying to get a job, especially with the federal government.

"Keep your nose clean because it affects your employment," Tony Rose, the base security manager, told the group.

"In a couple months, I'll be going into the real world, so this is a great opportunity," said Josh Reese, a 12th-grader, at the program's kick-off event Tuesday.

In the future, Johnson said, the job shadowing opportunities will expand to positions at Fort Irwin, with even the possibility of summer internships.

"It's meant to be a broad-based program," said Johnson. "The students' interests are markedly diverse."

Additional reporting by intern Tori Cobb.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com