Trailblazers like Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper and designer Betsey Johnson all started their careers with internships. At Eagle’s Landing High School (ELHS), students have the opportunity to participate in internships, part-time jobs and apprenticeships in order to gain work experience.
Students work at local law firms and funeral homes, as well as at establishments like Taco Bell, Zaxby’s, Freddy’s, Rue 21 and Rack Room Shoes. Preparation for careers does not start when a student enters the doors of the job. It starts in the classroom; it is an ongoing process accomplished by a combination of activities and practices that can be implemented from the first day of school—no matter the job market, location or available resources. In addition to project- and problem-based learning activities, there are a variety of ways that I am able to provide ELHS business students with career development learning experiences.
All classes operate like a school-based enterprise. Students sign in and out each day as they would on the job. They learn the importance of not signing others in, arriving at their scheduled time, etc. I explain to them the appropriate attire to wear on a job at the start of the school year, and every Wednesday students dress for success in their best business casual or professional attire. Commonly used business terminology is practiced on a daily basis.
The classroom setup showcases all the elements of a standards-based classroom while visually incorporating elements of a workplace. Students hold classroom leadership positions, like secretary, HR manager and IT specialist, to give them informal work experience with real-world tasks. Professionals from postsecondary institutions and metro Atlanta business leaders serve as guest speakers and volunteers. Every year students participate in a mock interview fair and a college and career fair. An employability skills rubric helps to show the students how well they are exhibiting skills like punctuality, collaboration and project management. The rubric is similar to an employee evaluation, which gives students an idea about the process they will undergo as a full-time employee. Students evaluate themselves and reflect on how well they have exhibited the skills required in the workplace.
By: Yvette T. Dupree, PHD, Georgia Marketing Educator of the Year 2012, Eagle’s Landing High School, Business and Computer Science