Guest Blog: Wanda Etheridge, 2021 Teacher Extern

3 lessons for high schoolers when choosing a career path

Wanda Etheridge has two important roles at Randallstown High School in Baltimore County – College & Career Research Teacher and Work-based Learning Coordinator. It is her job to show her students their potential and aims to inspire them with career possibilities. A critical piece of her job is to connect students to an array of different career journeys and educational options.

Although Wanda’s externship was virtual, she connected deeply with Kaiser Permanente and its employees.

This summer, Wanda had the opportunity to be part of the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s Teacher Externship Program, where she worked at Kaiser Permanente, a leading health system that provides health care and coverage for more than 780,000 members in the Maryland, DC and Virginia region, for four weeks learning about careers in healthcare and specific roles at the company. The team at Kaiser Permanente took Wanda under their wing and gave her a glimpse into the company’s operations and culture.

“My primary focus was to explore the many roles of the Kaiser Permanente team members, become educated on the mission of the company in addition to the company culture and the work life balance it offers its employees,” said Wanda. “In addition to my one-on-one interviews, the Kaiser team made me feel welcome by including me in their weekly team meetings and their Mindful Monday meetings where employees are encouraged to participate in wellness checks and stress management techniques.”

We asked Wanda to sum up what she learned in her time at Kaiser Permanente, and she gave us the 3 most important lessons she learned and will take back to the classroom:

The team at Kaiser Permanente threw Wanda a virtual party at the end of her externship.

1 ) Employers value applicants who are enthusiastic about learning, sometimes more than an applicant meeting every single qualification. This reinforcement from those in the industry will lend confidence to students when preparing for interviews.

2) Research a company to be sure the company culture aligns with your values. I believe this recommendation will lead to long term career satisfaction.

3) When unsure about a college major, research courses offered and work backwards to the desired major – you may find an area of focus you never knew. Normally students start with a previously determined career choice of interest and dive into the major unaware of course content that could derail and discourage them down the line.

These important lessons will surely benefit Wanda’s students as they approach graduation and look towards their futures. Thank you, Wanda and Kaiser Permanente, for making this experience truly beneficial for Maryland students as they explore future careers.


Learn more about Maryland Chamber Teacher Externship Program here, and meet all of our incredible 2021 Teacher Externs.

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