Preparing for life after school
You might have seen high school students from Mount Saint Agnes Academy working in the community during school hours as part of the work experience programme.
Students complete work hours in line with their four-year education plan for diploma credit. They are responsible for seeking internship opportunities, obtaining approval and documenting their work hours.
There are two main purposes for students getting involved:
• to develop the skills, attitudes and expectations to succeed in the workplace
• to explore career options and opportunities.
This is a learning situation outside of the typical classroom experience.
Students learn to be aware of expectations such as dress codes, behaviour and language; to follow instructions and ask for clarification or assistance as needed; to follow safety procedures; to become better at time management and to be responsible for notifying their employer of any expected absences or lateness.
Students are able to get real-world work experience for school credit, which assists them with career planning while learning the ropes of the workplace environment.
Dylan Holshouser, a grade 12 student, spent the summer building a house with his uncle's maintenance and construction firm, Midnight Maintenance.
He said that although he was working with family, he did not get any breaks and they taught him to rectify any mistakes. He learnt to mix concrete and cement, lay block, build drywall and paint.
While a career in construction and maintenance is not one he is considering, he enjoyed the work and now has an appreciation for the hard, physically demanding job.
He is also proud to now have the basic skills necessary to complete small projects on his own.
Jared Dunstan, in grade 11, worked at the MSA summer camp as a student counsellor. This was the first time he had looked after younger children but he enjoyed his experience and gained a new appreciation for his own teachers and their patience.
Jared wants to pursue a career in insurance and learnt valuable time-management and communication skills.
Key lessons were how to bond with the younger students and direct the youngest campers.
Hunter Squire, another grade 12 student, worked in different departments at The Royal Gazette — photography, news and graphic design.
Although she felt shy at first and had some difficulty completing tasks, Hunter says she was welcomed and encouraged by the RG family and found things easier as she became accustomed to the work of researching, writing and finding photos.
For Hunter, this was her first 9-5 job and the experience was very informative for the budding journalist.
Each work experience position is different and it is up to the student to make the most of these opportunities.
Dylan recommends that students try out different opportunities and is researching an internship with the Bermuda Police Service.
Sometimes there are challenges with fitting the programme requirements into their schedules but all the students said the programme was worth the effort and they had fun.
Lessons learnt can apply to many things. For Hunter Squire, she was able “to experience what it was like to be a journalist and really got a feel for what working in an office is all about”.
This programme demonstrates the importance of a well-rounded learner with a balanced perspective on academic achievement and realistic career planning.
• If anyone is interested in hiring a student intern for MSA's work experience programme, contact Kevin Tonak, MSA's curriculum co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org