SCHINNEN, Netherlands - AFNORTH International High School students got a firsthand look at defense-related careers during Job Shadow Day, Feb. 2, as they "shadowed" military and civilian professionals at USAG Schinnen and the NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany.

Coordinated by Schinnen's Workforce Development Office, the event brought together 68 international students at AFNORTH from ten different countries for a day of real-life work that many had not previously experienced.

Turkish 11th-grader, Gorkem Ercan said this was the first opportunity he'd had to see particular career fields for himself. Ercan, who is interested in environmental engineering, "shadowed" USAG Schinnen's Chief Engineer.

"This was so practical," Ercan explained. "The things we got to see and experience today will stay in our minds much longer and really help us decide on our future careers," Ercan said.

Job Shadow gives students a unique opportunity for an up-close look at various professions. Students "shadow" occupational mentors during a normal day on the job, explained Kathy Foley, Schinnen's Workforce Development Coordinator. "One of the benefits is that students see how the skills they learned in school are put to use in the workplace," Foley said.

Since 1997, Job Shadow events have been hosted throughout the U.S. The initiative is led by the National Job Shadow Coalition, headed by corporate and government sponsors, including the U.S. Dept. of Education, AT&T and the nonprofit, America's Promise. This was the second year the event was held in the Tri-Border area.

Canadian 12th grader, Suzanne Nogue is interested in law enforcement, so she "shadowed" Schinnen's Military Police during the morning and GK's Legal Office in the afternoon. Walking from a mock crime scene where Military Police instructed students in collecting evidence, Nogue said the day far exceeded her expectations.

"I did 'Take Your Child to Work Day' with my parents, but this was so much better because I actually got to see and do some of the things I might one day do in real life," Nogue said.

American 12th-grader, Alex Graves agreed. As he and Nogue trudged through snow to reach the bloody crime scene (fake, of course), Graves realized some jobs aren't as glamorous as he'd imagined. "Still, it's pretty cool to see how a job is actually done instead of how it's shown on TV," Graves said.