The Coast News Group

Students experience a day on the job

VISTA — Vista Unified School District middle school students are getting workforce ready through an “experienceship” program in which they spend a day on the job at a local business in a growth industry.

“The reason why the district is pursuing this effort is because we need to make sure that we are truly preparing students for the world of work,” Eric Chagala, founding principal of

Vista Innovation and Design Academy, said.

The first experienceship field trip was to Solatube lighting.

The company is expected to see growth in the coming years, at the same time current middle school students will be looking for their first job.

Solatube makes tubular daylighting devices that bring natural light into interior spaces that cannot access light through skylights and windows. The lighting is cost-effective, energy-efficient and eco-friendly.

Prior to the field trip students looked into what it would take to work at Solatube, and filled out a field trip application in which they listed their strengths and weakness for the job.

On Tuesday about 20 selected students met with Solatube employees to learn about clean energy jobs, and engage in a team problem-solving activity.

After the challenge, students had an opportunity to reflect on what they learned, the importance of essential skills, and their career readiness goals.

The day helped build a bridge between classroom learning and a future career.

“We deeply believe in the opportunity for students to get off campus, and to see how the things they are learning in school correlate to what is actually happening, in an applied fashion, in the real world,” Chagala said. “School is only relevant when students see their place in a future purpose.”

Other local businesses will be visited by additional students in the future. Field trips will include stops at advanced manufacturing, health care, information and communication technology, and life sciences workplaces.

Chagala said the field trips will make a lasting impact.

“Students will see how things they discuss in their science class actually relates to the world, and they will begin to unravel the possibilities and hope for their own futures,” Chagala said.

Chagala added middle school is the perfect age for kids to start thinking about their careers.

“We can not wait until high school for kids to be engaged, excited and curious about their futures,” Chagala said. “Middle school is where students decide they will or they won’t succeed.”

The program also helps businesses by inspiring and readying a future workforce for high demand industries.