BARSTOW • Seventeen-year-old Joshua Smith started his first day of work as a store manager on Wednesday.

The soft-spoken Barstow High School 11th-grader was in his second week of a job shadowing program that allowed Smith to get a taste of a store manager's responsibilities at the Marine Corps Logistics Base.

About 20 students from Barstow High School started participating in a hands-on job shadowing program that began last week, where students follow employees in professions ranging from real estate agents to graphic designers. The program, which is part of the high school's Mojave XP Academy, started off last week with orientation and realistic new hire paperwork. On Wednesday, students finally got behind the scenes.

Smith followed Jane Duncan, who is in charge of inventory control at the Marine Corps Exchange store as she walked Smith behind the register counter, through the aisles and behind the storage area.

"Welcome to my world," Duncan said to Smith as she showed him some of her daily tasks, like updating bar-codes on shelved items. It may be a simple task, but it usually takes more than a day, Duncan explained. The store contains items ranging from gas station snack foods to soldier uniforms to video game consoles.

Duncan also put Smith behind the front counter for a while as sales associate Marie Montano closed out the cash register, separating cash, checks, coupons and counting loose change.

"A lot of times when you hurry, you miscount," Montano pointed out to Smith.

For most of the time, Smith silently absorbed what Duncan explained. Smith said he wanted to work with a store manager because he wanted to learn more about managing money.

"I'm learning a lot," he said.

As Smith's job shadowing program mentor, Duncan shared some of her work background with the high-schooler.

"I started at the bottom, just like everybody else," said Duncan, who has been working at military base stores for over eight years. She also emphasized the versatility of every position, noting that everyone, from manager to cashier, pitched in when the store recently renovated, for example.

"It's not one person doing one thing," said Duncan.

"Anywhere you work you've got to work as a team," she said.

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(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com