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Students learn from business pros
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Caleb Grizzle, 18, Leah Carney, 17, Ashliegh Stanback, 16, and Caleb Hopkins, 17, all of North Hall High School, learn about building a resume as their Introduction to Business and Technology teacher Karen Filchak looks on.The class spent Tuesday morning job shadwoing at Memorial Park Funeral Home in Gainesville, where they learned about getting a job and running a small business. - photo by Jennifer Jacob Brown

Business students at North Hall High School did some job shadowing Tuesday at what may sound like an unusual place — Memorial Park Funeral Home.

“It kind of surprised me at first,” said 17-year-old Caleb Hopkins. “I never thought I would job shadow here.”

But Hopkins, who works as a crew member at McDonald’s when he’s not at school, said he learned a lot about the world of business and how to find a job. He also learned about the funeral business in particular.

“I didn’t know that caskets cost that much, because it’s just wood and cloth. I didn’t know you had to have a vault,” he said. “It’s more complicated. It’s competitive for funeral homes.”

The 11th- and 12th-grade students are part of Karen Filchak’s Introduction to Business and Technology class. In class, they learn about building a resume and nailing a job interview, but Filchak said hearing it from someone who hires people makes a big difference.

“This obviously makes so much more of an impression than anything I can tell them in a classroom,” she said.

“It helps them to see the real world,” said Lee Highsmith, executive director of North Georgia for Junior Achievement of Georgia, which organized the event. “Their teachers can tell them till the cows come home about what to do in job interviews, but when they come in and see (Memorial Park Vice President of Operations Billy) Hendrix say, ‘If you do this, I cross you off the list,’ that’s different.”

Students watched Memorial Park staff put on a mock bad job interview so they could learn what not to do when they enter the job market. They also heard from staff about what employers look for on a resume.

“I learned more about what I had to put on a resume, and I learned the volunteer work is very much appreciated in terms of what to put on a resume,” said Leah Carney, 17. “I learned I need to do more.”

Highsmith and Filchack both spoke to the students to stress the importance of including volunteer work and extracurricular activities on a resume.

“Never undervalue your volunteer work, especially at your age,” Filchak said.

Students also learned about what to expect in terms of making arrangements when someone loses a loved one.

“Everybody’s going to be in a funeral home at some point in their lives, it’s better for them to come and learn how this business works when they’re not in crisis,” Highsmith said.

“I think it takes some of the fear away once they can come in and see it’s a service to people,” said Filchak.