It’s the question posed to every student when back to school time rolls around: what did you do this summer?
Two high school students near CSL Behring’s manufacturing site in Kankakee, Illinois, have returned to class with impressive answers. They spent part of the summer shadowing successful professionals at the biotech company’s leading-edge facility.
The opportunity came about through CSL Behring’s partnership with Kankakee Community College’s Upward Bound (UB) program, which provides college preparatory services to 78 local high school students every year.
Odell Jones got a real-world glimpse of his potential future by shadowing in CSL Behring’s Business Technology (BT) department. The job shadow was a chance to pursue an interest in computer science that he developed as a young child.
“I was fascinated with how computers worked,” he said. “I took them apart and put them back together growing up.”
Odell spent the summer working with Business Analysts, Service Desk Technicians, Managers, and Quality Delegates for two hours a day, five days a week, to learn about every facet of the BT Department.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity at CSL Behring and getting to know everyone and their backgrounds along with gaining so much knowledge that is going to help me succeed in the future. I realized there are a lot more job opportunities available that I didn’t know existed before job shadowing,” he said.
Odell Jones, front row, center, and CSL Behring's Business Technology team in Kankakee, Illinois.
Odell’s future plans include participating in more internships and job shadow opportunities, along with visiting colleges to decide where he would like to go next year. Odell is currently in a law enforcement program at the Kankakee Area Career Center, member of the wrestling team and student council.
“Having Odell in our department was a great learning experience for him and invigorating for 18 members of the BT Team,” said Jill Rieken, BT Senior Manager. He learned more than he planned, and it gave CSL employees a chance to showcase their expertise in the different BT Systems and processes.”
The UB program is funded through the U.S. Department of Education, and has been hosted on the campus of KCC since 1992. Throughout its 26 years, the KCC UB program has provided a variety of services and activities designed to improve each student’s achievement in high school. It has also been instrumental in assisting low-income students or students who would be the first generation in their family to go to college to prepare and complete their post-secondary educational goals.
Kayin Farlins shadowed in the Quality Control laboratory, where she had the chance to learn the fundamental general procedures that are a basis for all lab technicians. The lab setting was a natural fit for Kayin, who has been interested in biology since she was young.
“Being in a lab you can touch, see, and learn. It is something new every day. You never get bored with what you are doing,” she says.
Kayin shadowed in the lab five hours a day twice a week.
“I was totally amazed with what is produced inside the lab. The automation, precision and the fast pace really surprised me,” she observed. “If I could do this job shadow experience again, I would. It was very eye opening, hands on and fun! Meeting everyone was a pleasure. I thought lab technicians were quiet but I was wrong. They are vibrant and enthusiastic. It felt like I was at school talking to my favorite teachers.”
Kayin Farlins, right, with CSL Behring Group Lead Biology Elizabeth Boyd.
Kayin sees herself as a potential laboratory science or psychology major at Mississippi State University in the future. For the moment, she’s also involved in the law enforcement program at the Kankakee Area Career Center.
Elizabeth Boyd, CSL Behring Group Lead Biology, says the enthusiasm Kayin brought to the lab gave the entire Quality Control team a boost.
“The biology group really enjoyed having Kayin job shadow. We were happy to help the Upward Bound program expand in a new way. It was refreshing to see Kayin’s excitement and eagerness to learn, and was rejuvenating for our team. We hope that we were able to help Kayin choose a career path as she starts to make college plans,” Elizabeth added.