This past semester, five students from Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) participated in a new, six-week-long Formerly known as Cooperative Education or co-op, Kalamazoo RESA’s Work-Based Learning program provides students with an opportunity to gain on-the-job experience and career skills in a mutually beneficial employer partnership with job sites across the county. The program’s goal is to increase student’s awareness across the broad spectrum of careers and develop critical teamwork skills to help them succeed in the world of work.
At the start of the second semester, the students who enrolled in the course were presented with the opportunity to partake in an internship that was relevant to their career interests. The cohort of KPS students consisted of four seniors and one junior, of which four participated in the internship virtually, and one completed the internship face-to-face.
Despite the challenges that stemmed from shifting to virtual programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants that opted for the virtual internship were able to collaborate with different departments across KRESA’s Career and Talent Development team, learning from and working with a new supervisor each week for the duration of the internship.
“The students were able to connect with a career mentor in a field they were interested in learning more about,” said Donald Herber, KRESA’s Work-Based Learning Coordinator who led the students throughout their internship experience. “They flourished in their internships and were confident and comfortable speaking openly about their experiences in this course, their high school careers, and the internship itself. It was great to see them comfortably express their career interests and take steps to see their career goals come to fruition!”
The course is designed to help students explore careers and gain employability, leadership, and career preparation skills during the first semester. Following the completion of the first semester, the participants were able to grow their communication skills, learn about various career pathways, and get experience building their resume and learning the process of interviewing effectively throughout the internship.
“In this internship, I learned how to build a resume because at first, I thought I couldn’t have one since I haven’t really had a job before,” said one KPS junior.
At their completion of the internship, students reported their confidence in their ability to search for full-time career opportunities had improved and they felt more comfortable expressing their opinions and exploring career opportunities that align with their interests.
“I feel confident in expressing my own opinion and being confident in my career exploration,” said one KPS senior.
Looking to the future, Herber connected one-on-one with the participants at the conclusion of their internships to get feedback on their experience with the course and internship program.
To learn more about Work-Based Learning, visit our webpage here: https://www.kresa.org/Page/2411