Students Practice Work Skills By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter Dominique Smith, a Sylmar High School senior, is headed to either Missouri’s Columbia College or Hawaii’s Chaminade University this fall to study forensic science. But last Friday, she was one of 77 students who spent a day at Universal Studios learning business skills in workshops sponsored by the entertainment company, Girl Scouts of the San Fernando Valley and the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and a host of other companies and community organizations. “These kids were chosen specifically because they already received training and this is a pilot program (the organizers) are looking to (expand),” said Sarah Kelly, development director for the Girl Scouts of the San Fernando Valley. The program, called the Student Leadership Senate, is free for students. Universal Studios provided space, Washington Mutual employees volunteered and Hometown Buffet took care of lunch, while other groups involved contributed manpower and gave in other ways, Kelly said. The idea for the workshops came about after the Economic Alliance surveyed local businesses from a wide variety of industries, Kelly said, and determined three specific areas that students applying for jobs needed to have. The areas were communication, ethics and teamwork. Next, they created a competition with 27 high schools throughout greater Los Angeles. Students were asked to write essays describing their ethical dilemmas and how teamwork was important. Sylmar High School emerged as the winner. Smith said she believes Sylmar students were selected based on the strength of their essays and experience with teamwork. “We have strong skills we’re pretty much already displaying, but we came to enhance them,” she said. In the morning workshop, she said, instructors presented the students with a mock situation that tested their ethics. Students were asked what they would do if they were corporate employees and saw a manager smoking marijuana. Smith said she would tell the manager’s supervisor. “We tell because (the manager) is only hurting the company, and if they need help, they can get it,” Smith said. Throughout the day, Smith and the other 76 students participated in three different workshops, each focusing on communication skills, values and ethics and teamwork, Kelly said. Smith, meanwhile, knows the value of the workshops not just for herself, but for other students too. “There are a lot of students that are shy to talk and nowadays it is a big part of any job,” she said.