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Counselor overload pushes students to devise their own job opportunities

Students at Umoja International Academy create their own employment prospects

Counselors at Umoja International Academy, formerly Kit Carson International Academy, say they have a full plate of tasks to do. One result of their high load is many students say they’re looking on their own for resources and guidance when it comes to possible employment.

Senior Ava Crates said she actually feels discouraged from pursuing employment. 

“My history teacher, at the start of his class last year, said you should not get a job,” Crates said. “My class is your full-time job.” 

Despite the pressure from faculty members, given the high percentage of low-income students who attend Umoja – at least 40%, according to an article by  – are still likely to be seeking jobs to add to their family incomes. 

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The school is provided support from Title-I funding to help aid students in various ways but students said employment opportunities and related resources are often overlooked. 

“It’s more of like it has to be your family that helps you out or you just have to do it yourself,” said Umoja senior Owen Wilber.

Wilber, who has experience working at both Land Park Ski and Sports as well as Casa East Sac, suggested the school could consider sponsoring a job-fair focused on students.

Some Umoja students said a lack of early job experience – and the resulting challenge when it comes to building up their savings –  is hindering the opportunity to have a stable financial college experience. 

“I want to have something before I go out to college because I know it’s probably going to be a lot more difficult to apply places without work experience,” Crates said. 

On the bright side, middle and high school counselors said they are trying their best to provide support alongside their many other tasks at Umoja. 

“I think as counselors we’re already pulled in so many directions,” said middle school counselor Sharmie Silva, who said that students can always consider organizing job opportunities as possible service hours. 

In fact, she said, those striving to meet the Creativity, Activity and Service requirements for the International Baccalaureate Diploma program can benefit by helping out their peers when it comes to employment. 

Advertisements such as posters and website-accessible resources seem to be another overlooked element when it comes to students connecting with employment resources. Students are saying that having a job while attending Umoja – or the IB program in general – is heavily discouraged by faculty members and school officials.

“I wish we’d built more of that into just high school in general instead of it always being so focused on the academics,” Silva said.

High school counselor Maya Dennis said a job board – something that would make finding a local job a much easier experience for students – is a good suggestion for Umoja.

”I definitely will suggest … to make a wall of any incoming job announcements for you,” she said.

Some students say finding a job, however, is not the end of the story when it comes to employment resources. Wilber – who has been employed for three years –  said connections are important to finding and maintaining a job – and there is a lack of resources on how students might start making such connections. 

“I haven’t had students come to me, but I know I’ve had to go to them,” Dennis said. 

Making students more aware of the counseling resources available could lead students to seek aid sooner. 

“Just come and talk to us,” Dennis said, “so that we can support and help with that process.”

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About the Contributor
Lillian Thornton
Lillian Thornton, Reporter
My name is Lilly Thornton, I am a senior at Umoja International Academy, where I am a part of multiple college level classes. My writing goals feature spreading awareness and love through my community and peers, and hopefully adding a bit of my personal queer perspective.
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    AnonymousSep 13, 2023 at 4:23 pm

    Great article, student worker difficulties have been present since the 60s. Looking forward to more amazing article from you.