The Pepperbox

The Student News Site of Arcata High School

The Pepperbox

The Pepperbox

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Mentorship – AHS offers real-life career experience

“It helps students get exposed to career ideas and gather information so that they can make informed decisions, choosing whether to pursue or pivot from different jobs they are considering,”
Johanna Mauro
2023 AHS Mentorship participants during their field trip to the fire station.

For three years, the Mentorship Program has connected seniors with real-life job experiences in any field they desire. A form for sign-up is posted both in the bulletin and around the school at the beginning of each year, and about eight to ten seniors are selected for the project, which lasts during only the first semester. As graduation rapidly approaches, they are provided with multiple resources to explore local employment opportunities to prepare them for their future.

The program runs in collaboration with Arcata High, the Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE), and the Arcata Chamber of Commerce (ACOC). The ACOC, an organized collection of local businesses in Arcata, wanted to broaden its reach within the community by offering job shadows to students.

This year, The Mentorship Program is organized by Johanna Mauro (AHS), Karen Brooks (HCOE), and Meredith Matthews (ACOC).

“It helps students get exposed to career ideas and gather information so that they can make informed decisions, choosing whether to pursue or pivot from different jobs they are considering,” Mauro said.

Students are encouraged to opt in and out of each activity according to their own personal interests. The different activities that occur during the program are as follows:

  • Most importantly, students get connected with a local business or organization and get to spend the day “shadowing” with real professionals in their field of interest
  • Students also get to take field trips to local colleges, such as Cal Poly Humboldt and College of the Redwoods, to speak with Professors and learn about majors
  • Other field trips occur during the program, but they differ each year according to student need
  • Students can attend open panels (which often occur in the library during class time) in which they speak to professionals within selected fields
  • Students are invited to participate in mock interviews and have their resumes critiqued and improved by local professionals (also in the library during class time)


Riley Haggerty is a senior who signed up for the Mentorship Program at the beginning of this year.  “I find a lot of value in physical skills, lots of my friend’s relatives and my relatives have been electricians,” he said.

Mauro connected him with Brant Electric, a local electrician company, and he got to spend 2-3 hours with them after school for an entire week. During this time, he found that the senior electricians were able to answer his questions with their expertise and experience which he couldn’t find as easily anywhere else.

“I asked a lot about the downsides and upsides of the job. I got to hear the horror stories too, and they didn’t seem that bad,” he said. “I got a few good tips that I wouldn’t have [without the program]. 100%, it helped.”

Arcata High’s Mentorship Program is the perfect opportunity for any student willing to commit a bit of their extra time, especially those who are unsure of where their future could lead them.

There is, in fact, only one way to know if something is right for you, and that’s trying it out.

“When a student realizes something isn’t for them, that’s just as valuable as when it is,” Mauro said. “Students need to get off campus and see.”

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About the Contributor
Anthony Vasek, Managing Editor
Anthony Vasek has been a reporter for the Pepperbox, a student-run publication with nearly a century of history, since 2022. This year he is excited to use his knowledge to take on an editorial role. His coverage revolves mostly around sensitive topics, such as mental health and drug use. He also does a great deal of graphic design, leading the class in InDesign during each layout session. Two articles of his have won both first and second place, respectively, in the Feature category of the Jackie Awards. Personally, he has a strong belief towards the supremacy of felines and fish.
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