¨The experience,¨ writes high school student Ivan Xiloj, ¨was even better than I had hoped it would be!¨ For our teenagers, spending the day recently with Guatemalan professionals was a fascinating and motivational experience. The activity ¨Socios por un Día,¨ (Partners for a Day) where high school students shadowed a manager for a whole day, involved over 600 high school students and 60 companies. We were very proud that 10 of our Safe Passage students were accepted into the program and had the opportunity to participate in such a great event!

Leading up to the activity, we had workshops on important professional and interpersonal skills. All of the students submitted a worksheet detailing their expectations for the day and worked hard on their resumes. Throughout the process, there were lots of questions: What do we wear? What are we going to do in the offices? What are the professionals going to be like? But the morning of the event, I walked into the main building to see 10 nervous yet smiling young people, dressed professionally, and excited for the day.

We arrived at the Hotel Real Intercontinental right on time for the students to enter the conference room and find their assigned tables. After registration, the professionals arrived to transport the students to their offices and share a very special day with our budding young professionals.

As I waited in the lobby at the end of the day for our students to return, I was both excited and nervous. Any doubts I had had were immediately erased when I saw them walk into the building. The students walked in proudly, talking and laughing with new friends they had met during the experience. They said goodbye to their hosts, shaking hands and receiving business cards, before walking into the conference room for the final celebration.

I finally had a chance during the reception following the event to catch up with our students who were, in a word, empowered. They talked excitedly about the information their host had shared, what they had learned about the companies, and their new plans for the future.

One of my favorite stories, from our student Abby Morales, is that her host explained all of the computer programs to her that they use in the company. When Abby indicated that she could use one of the statistical applications, he gave her the seat in front of the computer saying ,¨Great, then I´ll need your help then with this report.¨ Abby not only finished the report but submitted it to her host´s supervisor, who was extremely impressed at what this young woman had produced. Other students had the opportunity to attend negotiations and upper-level management meetings, getting a real taste of the professionals´ daily life.

Our students worked hard to get ready for the event and to take advantage of this opportunity for their professional growth. I am so proud of them for their hard work and thankful to the professionals who volunteered their time to make this day happen. One student, Aura López, who will graduate this year shared that her main takeaway from the experience is ¨to never give up¨ and with that spirit, she and all of our students will be successful in whatever they choose to do!


-Megan McAdams

Next Step Program Coordinator

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