School District No. 74 (SD74) is partnering with local businesses and industries to provide work experience opportunities for students; and Karen Miller, the district careers and transitions coordinator for SD74, is hoping to broaden the existing program to include new opportunities.
“We’re in the very early stages right now, promoting work experience in all the district high schools,” says Miller. She wants to reach out beyond the traditional businesses that usually provide work experience, such as the tourism industry or coffee houses.
“Sometimes resources exist in the community that we don’t know about, or businesses don’t know what we’re doing. Our goal is to increase work experience in our district.” She says she is particularly interested in hearing from journeypeople who would like to take part in the program.
The students are like interns, notes Miller, so they do not get paid. However, students who complete 120 hours of work experience in each of the WE 12A and WE 12B courses will receive eight credits toward graduation. “Work experience can also be done in smaller chunks,” points out Miller. “It provides flexibility to meet the needs of the students and the employers.”
However, the work experience program is about far more than credits. “It’s a great way to expose students to those really critical employment skills, like showing up on time, problem solving, talking to fellow employees and customers. It offers students an opportunity to network with people in the community, and build relationships with people outside their family and their school.”
The program tries to match students to a business that aligns with their future career choice. “But some kids have no idea what they want to do,” adds Miller. “This provides an opportunity for them to see what works or doesn’t work. Finding out that something doesn’t work for you is important too.”
The success of the program depends on community partnerships, and Miller encourages interested businesses to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (250) 459-2219. She will put businesses in touch with the careers and transitions coordinator at the appropriate school, and adds that the local coordinators will help support both the student and the employer through the work experience course and program.
“It’s a nice way to transition students into the work world with school support still there. It’s such an awesome thing, and shows how important it is to recognize all learning.”