Program offers on-the-job training

By: Mercede Kraabel

Teachers and counselors frequently remind students that all their work is pointed to skills for the future, but one problem makes this career path completely obvious every day — the experience-based career education or to put it in simpler terms, the work experience program. The work experience program is a program to help juniors and seniors explore different career opportunities and jobs in the Cedar Valley while working a little over an hour a day for each quarter.

Skills teacher Jennifer Juhl works with each student to find a job that they will like. “I try to match not only the students’ skills and interests with the work site, but also their personality. Sometimes it’s really important that the student has someone that can mentor them and build them up,” Juhl said.

The students change jobs every quarter, so if they take work experience both semesters, then they will be able to work at four jobs.

The work experience program is helpful to the students who don’t have the confidence in going to get a job on their own. Going out into the so-called “outside world” is hard on teens who don’t normally have a big social life, so the work experience program helps students build up confidence they need in a work environment.

Students take the skills they learn from their jobs and apply them into their everyday lives. “I can use the skills from Networks Solutions and help me learn more about computers, so I can get better at what I want to do, which is fixing computers,” senior Jeff Lavenz said.

Some of the jobs Lavenz worked at include Bancroft Flowers, UNI Library and Networks Solutions. His favorite job was working at Networks Solutions. “I liked Networks Solutions the best because I got to be around computers, and working with computers is what I want to do for my future career,” Lavenz said.

Some of the other jobs that are available to the students are Peppers, St. John Preschool, Family Video, Waffle Stop, Village Inn and Hy-Vee Bakery. At Peppers, Waffle Stop and Village Inn, students wash dishes and wipe down tables and chairs. At St. John Preschool they will play with the kids and help get activities ready for the kids. At Family Video they check back in the movies, sort them out and put the movies away, and at Hy-Vee Bakery they help box the treats and make sure that there are fresh baked treats in the display.

The work experience program teaches things that can’t be taught in the classroom. The students learn things that can only be experienced. They learn what employers are looking for in an employee, and they also learn about teamwork and strong work ethic. The students learn the up’s and down’s of working and how stressful it can be.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.29.45 AMJust the other week, junior Taryn Ackerman had to box about 40 boxes of cookies at the Hy-Vee bakery, and some of the other students love the jobs where they have a lot to do to keep them busy, whereas other students love the jobs where they are not as busy.

“Working at Village Inn wasn’t really my favorite job because I was washing dishes, and when they got busy, it was more stressful because there was a lot more dishes to do,” senior Don Quistorff said.

Not only can the students learn about working in a job, but they can use those skills to help them in school. “I have learned some skills that help me in school, like work ethic, keeping busy, getting my work done on time like my homework,” senior Chase Klose said.

Students get credit for the work experience program, and the employers provide constructive feedback. With getting the feedback, the students know what they do and don’t need improvement on for future jobs.

“I tell the students that they need to enjoy and be proud of the career area that they choose. How one feels about his or her work affects every area of his or her life,” Juhl said.

The students of the work experience program are able to experience and try many different types of jobs in order for them to determine their future careers.

“I like it because it’s makes me feel like a grown up, and like I’m actually going to a real job,” junior Rachel Carley said.

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