Source: Pathways to Technology: "Biotechnology Student Profile: Daphnee Georges"
In this video segment adapted from Pathways to Technology, meet Daphnee, a high school student with an interest in biotechnology. Daphnee takes afterschool classes at a community college to learn more about this field. She explains that she prefers hands-on activities to learning solely from a textbook. Daphnee invites us along on her job-shadowing experience at a biotechnology company, where she observes a biotechnician at work and asks questions that will help her decide if the career field may be right for her.
Biotechnology is an emerging technology, with new discoveries being made every day. In its initial research and development phase, a biotechnology company may rely heavily on individuals with a variety of educational backgrounds, in addition to skilled technicians, who carry out routine experiments, analyses, and cell culture work. However, when the company moves into a manufacturing phase, more people with basic science and laboratory skills are needed. Because the industry is experiencing such rapid growth, the demand for skilled workers with two-year degrees or less is high and only expected to rise. Many community colleges are offering programs designed to train biotechnology technicians for immediate employment. Some manufacturing positions require only a high school degree and training.
Preparing for a career in biotechnology requires learning both inside and outside the classroom. In school, science classes—including biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science—are recommended. Algebra, geometry, and other advanced math disciplines are also highly relevant. Some schools may also offer afterschool programs with activities that build on science and math skills. To succeed in biotechnology, other basic skills—including computer skills, problem-solving skills, and strong written and verbal communication skills—are also important.
High school students already interested in training for a career in biotechnology may consider enrolling in a vocational technical school. These schools offer students the certification or degree they'll need to compete in the job market. Students interested in biotechnology may be encouraged to make contacts and network outside of high school by talking to professionals and asking them for informational interviews (short interviews with people who already work in the field).
For many technical job areas, it is very beneficial for students to get some training in or exposure to a certain career before they begin searching for a job. So, finding ways to gain experience in the industry through work-based learning opportunities, such as internships and job shadowing, can help them eventually land a job. Daphnee, the subject of the video, chose job shadowing. This unpaid work experience is ideal for high school students. It allows them to learn about a job by "walking in the shadow" of an experienced worker. Students see for themselves the work environment and company culture, how technology and training are put into practice, and the different career options available. They can also ask lots of questions. Job shadowing helps students understand how their textbook learning can be applied in the real world.
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