Today’s job market is fierce. No longer do good grades and a degree make the cut when it comes to securing good employment. Employers of today expect candidates to enter the job market with some relevant work experience under their belts.

School-based co-ops, internships and apprenticeships can provide students with a head start on their career path. For more on internships and other work-based learning opportunities, keep reading.

    • Increase employability: Co-ops, apprenticeships and internships provide learners with work experience relevant to their chosen career path. Along with work experience comes life experience. Earning and managing money, working as part of a team and being exposed to the professional world help increase students’ skillsets and employability.
    • Guide career paths: Work-based learning provides students with a real-life glimpse of their career choice. This experience can help students confirm or reconsider career choices before they invest time and money.

 

    • Provide job search skills: Searching for an internship or apprenticeship provides students with the job-search skills they’ll need post-graduation. From identifying opportunities to resume preparation and interviewing, a student can never have too much practice.

 

  • Offer networking opportunities: As the saying goes: it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Work experience provides the opportunity to meet others within the community and the industry—and that opportunity is priceless.

Ensure your class is prepared for school-based work opportunities with these best practices:

    • Industry research: Those preparing for an internship should know what’s going on in their chosen industry. Have students review trade publications, industry-relevant blog posts and company websites before scheduling any interviews. Consider incorporating reading assignments, trend analyses or research into lesson plans to reinforce preparedness.

 

    • Resume preparation: A great resume can help students get their foot in the door. The rest, of course, is up to them. Work not only on writing great resumes, but also on content for the resumes. Volunteers, for instance, have a 27 percent better chance of getting a job than their non-volunteering counterparts. Provide those opportunities by organizing a class-wide volunteer or service project. Ideally, the opportunity to help others is incentive enough to participate. But you may want to consider rewarding participants with logo’d apparel, such as T-shirts or baseball hats, they can wear the day of the event. An awareness-ribbon locker magnet or silicone bracelet imprinted with your cause is a nice way to recognize a job well done.

 

  • The importance of thank you: Harvard Business Review® describes the words “thank you” as “the two most important words” in business. Instil in your students the value of sending a handwritten thank you to anyone who assisted in their internship search—parents, peers, teachers and employers, for example. School logo’d notecards and business cards can add an element of professionalism as well.

Showing students the benefits of internships and other work experience before they enter the workforce gives them a leg up in a very competitive job market. Those who land these prized internships and co-ops gain employability skills, job-search experience and the opportunity to network with others.

Boyington, Briana. “Understand the Differences Between a Co-op, Internship.” US News. U.S. News & World Report, 31 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

“Benefits of Employing School Based Apprentices & Trainees.” Hospitality Group Training. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

“Benefits of doing a co-op or internship: Is one better than the other?” Career Services at Virginia Tech. N.p., 30 Oct. 2015. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

Matthews, Michael. “7 Tips For Internship Preparation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 31 Mar. 2011. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

Collamer, Nancy. “Proof That Volunteering Pays Off For Job Hunters.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 24 June 2013. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

Eckert, Robert A. “The Two Most Important Words.” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business School Publishing, 01 Apr. 2013. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

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