Trying on different career hats

May 22, 2010|By Max Zimbert

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Arthur Mkrtchyan has long admired policemen.

After Mayor Ara Najarian dressed the sixth-grader Friday in a bulletproof vest, armed him with a billy club, SWAT helmet and gun holster, he said he is pretty convinced of his future career.

“I want to learn what they do,” said Arthur, who took part in the career day event at Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School. “They have guns, that’s the coolest part. And bulletproof vests.”


Najarian pointed out that police, like other city agencies, provide valuable and meaningful services.

“Police have a hard job; they deal with everything from a lost kitten to a bad gang member coming to town,” he told the assembly. “Firefighters have great jobs. You know why? Everyone loves firefighters. They save lives.”

In addition to Najarian, members of the construction, music, entrepreneurship, medicine, social media, entertainment and public service fields attended the annual event. All speakers had a connection to Verdugo Woodlands.

“We’re trying to give them a spectrum of things other than lawyer, doctor,” said John Andrews, a sixth-grade teacher. “They’re trying to get the kids to look for something that sparks their interest, jobs kids have never heard of, like a nonprofit consultant.”

Elizabeth Sadlon, a nonprofit organization consultant, has presented at career day before, and relies on activities and discussion to get students distinguishing between public and private sectors and what it means to be not for profit.

“It’s a completely different way of thinking, what are areas which are profit and which aren’t,” she said. “It’s a great chance for kids to think about what they can do with their lives and their time.”

Each participant got two sessions with speakers. Riccardo Zagara said he was pleased he got his music and social media choices.

“I like the Web a lot,” he said. “I want to be an actor. I go to acting school and have an agent, and the Internet can spread the word.”

Carmen Rizzo, a musician and producer, led students in a discussion to find whatever they’re passionate about.

“There’s nothing worse than doing a job you don’t want to do,” he said.

In Blayde Penza’s presentation about construction, design and architecture, students poured concrete into molds.

“Just like medicine, construction is multifaceted,” he said. “You can be an architect, an engineer or any number of trades.”

Carlo Rizzo, the student body president, asked Najarian what he wanted to be when he was in sixth grade.

“I wanted to do something important . . . I didn’t know what that was,” Najarian said. “Even something I knew I was never going to be doing, ‘Well, let me learn a little bit about science,’ [because] when you do the best you can, every year you’ll get better and better, and you can be whatever you want to be in life.”

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