The following was originally developed by Anne Scott, Principal, and Larry Stewart, Academy Director, Highland Energy/ Environmental Technology Academy, in Bakersfield, CA. It has been adapted by CCASN staff and provides a more in-depth discussion of how to build partnerships in an academy.
Step 1: Define your potential partners
Step 2: Recruit your first few partners
Step 3: Organize and use your advisory board
Step 4: Define the partners' roles and responsibilities
Step 5: Develop an activities calendar for the semester/year
Step 6: Recruit classroom speakers
Step 7: Recruit field trip sites
Step 8: Recruit mentors
Step 9: Develop formal partnerships
Step 10: Make your local college a partner
Step 11: View companies and colleges, not individuals, as partners
Step 12: Respond to partner concerns
Step 13: Publicize partner activities
Step 14: Continually expand partner contacts
Step 15: Value your partners
* The terms “advisory board” and “steering committee” are used interchangeably.
STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR POTENTIAL PARTNERS
Assemble your academy team (teachers, counselors, administrators) and develop answers to the questions below. This will take some research.
How do you define your industry? Keep your definition as broad as possible to include lots of business partners.
What are the types of companies/agencies that are part of this industry?
What are some leading companies in your city/county associated with this industry?
What associations serve these companies/agencies?
What local college programs are associated with this industry?
Who do you know who is associated with this industry (parents, friends, school board members, current school business partners in other fields)?
STEP 2: RECRUIT YOUR FIRST FEW PARTNERS
Before a business or college commits itself to providing assistance to an academy it is often necessary to obtain the approval of a high-ranking executive. This individual will then, more than likely, assign another person to assume primary responsibility for the program, who may in turn select others or request volunteers for particular assignments (e.g., advisory committee members, mentors, speakers, coordinators of internships).
Organize an academy team that includes administrators, faculty and counselors to recruit partners. Hopefully some will have been identified in the grant application, but begin from wherever you are.
It is important that administrators, including the principal and even the superintendent, be involved with partner recruitment. The higher the level of contact from the school the likelier you will be taken seriously. Provide release time for faculty to help plan the recruitment process and to make visits to industry sites. If this activity occurs during the summer, provide faculty stipends.
Design and produce printed materials that describe your academy. Print lots of these brochures so that you can distribute them wherever and whenever you talk to people about your academy. Develop a plan that assigns recruitment of specific potential business partners to members of your academy team. Many hands make light work.
Define the partner as a company or college, not an individual. Pick the top ten partners you would like to have. Ask each member of the team if they have a personal contact that they can make in any of these. Make phone contacts and set up appointments to personally explain your academy. CEOs and other industry representatives expect to be contacted by an administrator if you are calling cold.
Invite the potential partner to be a member of the academy's advisory committee that will make the decisions regarding curriculum, budget, calendar, activities, and so on. Stress how your academy will provide students with knowledge about the industry and encouragement to enter the industry.
STEP 3: ORGANIZE AND USE YOUR ADVISORY BOARD
You need to include academy faculty, counselors, administrators, secretary, business partners and college representatives. The business partner determines the employee(s) who will represent it on the steering committee.
Hold an organizational meeting to determine place, time and frequency of meetings and who will serve as chair. Set up a steering committee calendar for the year. Example:quarterly meetings, rotating among the high school, supporting companies, and the local community college, 7-9 a.m., with a continental breakfast and the host serving as chair.
Develop a process to keep the steering committee members informed. One option is to buy secretarial time out of your grant or have the school provide secretarial time. The secretary can take minutes and mail them to members, send reminder notices, develop the agenda in consultation with the academy director and meeting host, handle phone calls and emails from members.
Define the responsibilities to be handled by the steering committee. The steering committee members will be busy people. Make sure that steering committee meetings are productive. Use the expertise of your steering committee members where it best applies. For example, don’t focus on small decisions better left to administrators or teachers. Establish the topics that will be brought before the committee for review and approval.
Example: Review technical course sequence, identify possible dual enrollment subjects, identify/ provide needed equipment, plan speakers and field trips, identify mentors, approve the annual budget, recruit additional partners, evaluate completed activities (e.g., speaker program, summer internships), solve problems that develop.
Provide time for brainstorming during your steering committee meeting.
STEP 4: DEFINE THE PARTNERS' ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Partners include companies, public agencies, colleges and individuals employed in the industry. The advisory board needs to define what you need from employers and colleges beyond those serving on the steering committee. As your academy develops, your goal should be to expand the partner base to include a variety of resource people who can assist in all aspects of the program.
We quickly learned that individuals who volunteer as partners have varied talents to share with students. Our job is to match those talents with our needs. One partner may be willing to come to the classroom one day and talk about his job. Another partner may volunteer to set up a field trip at her business. A trio of business partners may agree to work together and mentor some students.
We ask our partners to provide us with one field trip site each year which will give 50 sophomore or junior students a half or whole day tour/ experience. If that is difficult to do, we ask that they take a smaller group of students. If that is impossible, we ask that they provide a classroom speaker.
We ask that our company partners provide us with opportunities to recruit mentors and that the mentors be able to use work time to work with our students.
We never ask for money. In our initial presentation, we explain that we are asking for a more valuable contribution: the time and talents of individuals. However, we do get contributions of money and meals while on field trips. This occurs when a partner wants to do something with our academy students and realizes that the school doesn't have the resources to accomplish the task.
STEP 5: DEVELOP AN ACTIVITIES CALENDAR
Partners are wonderful, but if you recruit lots of talented individuals who want to work with your students, you need to develop a calendar to organize all the academy activities. We develop and print a calendar each semester. We schedule monthly field trips, classroom activities, mentor activities, due dates for semester projects, parent meetings, student celebrations, and industry events.
The academy calendar is developed by the academy faculty. Much of the work on it is done during the summer when the teachers contact partners and set up field trips and classroom activities for the coming year. Our academy teachers are each paid a $1,000 summer stipend for academy work. They also schedule evening meetings with parents and quarterly celebrations of student achievement.
Work on the calendar is continuous because dates get changed and new opportunities emerge. It is on the computer and updated and printed frequently to reflect the changes.
STEP 6: RECRUIT CLASSROOM SPEAKERS
Partners can bring the industry and higher education to the classroom. We block our academy classes so that all sophomores or all juniors may come together for a presentation. Our academy headquarters is in one building with a large classroom that can hold 50 students. All our math classes are conducted here. The classroom is adjacent to two large science labs that are also used by the academy for the academy technology and applied physics classes. The academy also has access to computer labs. This classroom complex has evolved in response to the varied activities we pursue in the academy.
What types of classroom activities do partners provide? They may provide general information about their industry, support for the academic disciplines taught within the academy, or offer specialized training. Ideas for classroom presentations frequently come from the steering committee's partners. Academy team members are always alert to new possibilities, and we find that ideas often emerge when we're having informal discussions at industry functions or on field trips or working with mentors. Often, a partner will recommend that we contact a colleague who has particular expertise that can be shared.
How often do you schedule business partners in the classroom? We began by trying to schedule a classroom presentation every two weeks. This schedule, coupled with a monthly field trip, quarterly celebration of student accomplishments, group research projects, and the need to teach a college prep curriculum in English, math, and biology to students who had previously been general level, exhausted our teachers. We are now more flexible about classroom presentations, and schedule them whenever they seem appropriate.
STEP 7: RECRUIT FIELD TRIP SITES
The monthly field trip experience has been a major component in the success of our academy. Approximately seven field trips are provided for students each year.
How do you organize the field trips? During the summer academy teachers meet and outline a tentative calendar of field trips related to topics that the students will be studying during the year. Each teacher volunteers to organize specific trips. That teacher is responsible for contacting the business partner and arranging the date, place, and time of a trip. Our academy secretary schedules school buses to transport the students. Transportation costs are funded through the CPA grant. A majority of our students are on the free/reduced lunch program, and the school cafeteria provides free sack lunches for those students. The grant pays for sack lunches for the other students. Two academy teachers or one teacher and an administrator or counselor go on each field trip. Because of block scheduling, only one substitute has to be hired to cover two academy teachers. Substitute costs are budgeted through the grant. All counselors and administrators are encouraged to participate in one field trip each year.
The school has obtained signed parent permission forms that cover all academy activities during the school year. Students must wear their academy white polo shirts on the field trip. To participate in a field trip students must be in good standing in the class which means no recent attendance cuts or discipline referrals.
What is the partner's role for a field trip? Business or college partners provide activities for students at the site. This may include presentations, tours, demonstrations, and hands on opportunities. We go with what the partner wants to provide. Last year we provided eight field trips for our sophomores.
STEP 8: RECRUIT MENTORS
The Career Academy guidelines call for adult mentors at the junior year. Recruiting partners as mentors has been our greatest challenge. The academy team used the mentor materials presented at the state Career Academy conference and found them extremely helpful. However, convincing a business partner that he wanted to mentor a student has been much more difficult than organizing classroom presentations or field trips.
How do you recruit business partners as mentors? The team adapted materials from the CCASN Mentor Handbook for Career Academies. An academy mentor information package was developed and printed. The teachers tried to set up mentor presentations during the summer; however, companies were reluctant to schedule such presentations then because of vacations.
We solved our mentor recruitment problem by enlisting the services of a retired district administrator who took on the activity as a 30-day post retirement project. The district approved the project for funding as a $9,000 district matching investment. This administrator had served at the adult school and had extensive industry contacts. He set up appointments for both himself and the teachers and administrators to present the mentor program. He brought out prospective mentors to view the academy classes and meet academy students. He made personal contacts with industry public relations officials and left mentor materials for distribution to all employees.
What does a business partner do as a mentor? Mentors are asked to meet with their mentees once each month. An information session and lunch activity at the high school was provided to introduce the mentors to their students. A schedule of monthly mentor activities has been developed; however, mentors do not have to participate in these. Mentors are asked to provide a February job shadow experience for their student.
On their mentor information/application forms most of the mentors wrote that they wanted to assist the students with their academic work, and tutoring sessions have been scheduled. Some mentors volunteered to work with two mentees, and some work as teams sharing a group of students.
STEP 9: DEVELOP FORMAL PARTNERSHIPS
A great way to gain business partners and financial support is for your academy to be formally partnered with a company or related organization. This is particularly important if your school is located in a large city and competes with other schools for support.
How do you establish formal partnerships? They may be developed with a specific business, an industry association, an intermediary organization such as a school-business alliance or Chamber of Commerce, or any other group that interfaces with that industry. Your job is to convince the organization that your academy has unique ties to them that makes a formal partnership logical and productive. The business or organization needs to see some value for them as a result of partnering with you.
What do you get from a formal partnership? There are a number of potential advantages:
1. Access to all the employees and/or the roster of members so that you can then recruit individual business partners
2. Specified annual commitments of personnel time and talent
3. Grants, used equipment, instructional materials, and attendance at industry functions
4. Status, as your partnership is publicized by the company
Affiliate memberships in organizations may assist your academy's growth also. You may want to become an affiliate member of an organization that can provide your academy with specialized knowledge of assistance.
STEP 10: MAKE YOUR LOCAL COLLEGES PARTNERS
A local community college or a four-year state university can be a great partner. Many of your academy students will be attending one of these, and you need to be working closely together. You need to include the college from the beginning in your academy planning.
What roles does a college play as partner? The college should have representatives on the academy steering committee. These representatives should come from appropriate departments and programs.
The college partners can offer advice on curriculum development, particularly in the technical academy classes. They may provide college courses for academy students to take through dual enrollment arrangements, providing both high school and college credit. The college faculty can also introduce the academy faculty to other sources of information related to the industry.
The college should be the site of a field trip each year to learn about college programs related to the industry, how to access the college library to do research, and the college application process. It may also have funding sources to augment the academy program budget.
STEP 11: VIEW COMPANIES AND COLLEGES. NOT INDIVIDUALS,
AS YOUR PARTNERS
Change happens. Individuals are transferred, get new responsibilities, develop new community interests, and the academy may no longer be a high priority. We've struggled with this situation in several instances and have learned to seek a company or college commitment with the understanding that individuals may vary from year to year.
Example 1: We had an individual who served as a business partner when we became a model Tech Prep school. She then became a member of our steering committee. Through her efforts the academy received a grant of $5,000 and was provided a field trip site. However, this partner was transferred to the mid-west and her successor has not answered any of our phone calls.
Example 2: Another business was an original partner that formally supported our grant application. For the planning year and first year of implementation the individual who wrote that letter served on our steering committee. However, she involved a variety of other employees in academy projects. When her company merged with another our steering committee member assumed new responsibilities. However, she arranged for the high school to become a formal partner with that new company and had a successor named to the academy steering committee.
STEP 12: RESPOND TO PARTNER CONCERNS
One of your major academy goals should be to keep your partners happy with their roles in your academy. To succeed you need to be aware of any concerns and be ready to respond.
How do you respond to individual partner concerns? Business partners may be uncertain about working with teenagers. They will have questions about how to successfully handle their academy responsibilities. You need to have a process to handle their questions and reduce their anxiety. Academy faculty need to understand that part of their task is to guide business partners participating in an activity.
Example: Each teacher is responsible for working with specific business partners who are serving as mentors. If a mentor has a question, she calls that teacher. Alternatively, you could assign one teacher the responsibility of the mentor program, and that teacher would then handle all mentor concerns.
Concerns often focus on the scheduling. That is why it is important that every activity be assigned to a specific teacher who will organize it, contact the partner, and maintain contact until the activity is completed. An academy secretary can play an important role in handling scheduling concerns and other minor problems. She needs to know what is going on with partners so she can respond to calls or emails and provide the needed information. She can also find answers to concerns and relay them back to the partner.
Example: Our academy uses two hours of a full time school secretary who also handles other responsibilities. Our understanding is that her time is flexible so that she may respond to academy calls throughout the day. However, the academy Lead Teacher and administrators need to handle concerns that affect the company or school. If it’s a serious concern, the principal needs to become involved because the partner may work with the school in other areas beyond the academy. Sometimes a major concern is beyond the school's ability to solve because the industry is experiencing problems. In this case you just adjust and move on.
STEP 13: PUBLICIZE PARTNER ACTIVITIES
Business partners volunteer to assist an academy for a number of reasons. These include wanting to assist young people to succeed, wanting to recruit young people to enter the industry, wanting to give back to the community, wanting approval from their company, or the company wanting approval from the community and/or its national headquarters.
You need to provide your business partners with positive publicity about the support they are providing your academy. This gives strokes to individual partners while encouraging other employees to volunteer to work with your academy. It enhances the company image in the community. If the company is national, it helps the local office to impress national headquarters with their volunteer spirit and industry promotional efforts.
Example: The energy industry gains mixed reactions from the general public. When we first proposed an energy/environmental technology academy, potential energy industry partners worried that the students might attack the industry. We explained that it gave the industry an opportunity to present its operations in a positive way. Newspaper articles about our field trips present the industry favorably, quoting positive student reactions while explaining what the students have seen and learned.
What types of publicity can you provide? One goal is to keep the academy visible in the school and community. Each edition of the school newspaper can have an academy story, and the parent newsletter an academy update. The public relations representatives of our business partners keep in contact with the school and write frequent articles for the company newsletters. The community newspaper and television stations accompany students on field trips to interesting business sites. These stories provide human interest, showing students interacting with industry representatives.
If the school has a career day or partner’s day this can generate positive publicity. It can become an opportunity to host your business partners or recruit potential partners. It may give them a picture of the school generally or focus on the role of the academy within the school.
Example 1: The district holds an annual Principal Partners Day, and each school hosts 15 to 20 business leaders. This year we invited all the members of the educational subcommittee of the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and concentrated on presenting the academy. Some who attended had not been active in the academy previously, but three signed up to be mentors the next day.
Example 2: The district always invites representatives from the local offices of the state senator and assemblyman to attend Principal Partners Day. This year we hosted the local representative of an assemblyman, who seemed very impressed with the academy. We have subsequently heard that this assemblyman will support the state budget increase in the Partnership Academy allocation.
STEP 14: CONTINUALLY EXPAND EMPLOYER CONTACTS
Why do you need to keep adding business partner contacts? Change happens: companies dissolve or change their community focus, and individuals leave the company, or grow tired. You need to view each business partner as a potential long-term connection who is really only certain for the short-term.
National corporations move their employees. We have assigned mentors to students and then had the mentors call and say they were being transferred next month or having to go out of the country for an extended assignment. The academy tries to develop mentor clusters with several mentors from one company working with several students. If one employee is transferred, the other mentors agree to mentor the student assigned to that employee.
New business partners bring in new ideas and activities. You may begin your academy with ten business partners that you already know. As your academy grows and you add students, you need to expand your academy partners to answer needs that you didn't know existed when you began.
Example: Our academy began with an emphasis on the energy industry because we had contacts in that field. Our only environmental technology contacts were with the local community college and waste management organization. By our second year we had established business partner connections with the local Parks and Recreation Department, the Bureau of Land Management, and other environmental groups. When the industry encountered a cyclical downturn the environmental business partners stepped in and provided increased field trip sites, mentors, and service learning opportunities.
STEP 15: VALUE YOUR PARTNERS
Without business partners your academy can't survive. You need to show your companies, your individual partners, the associations that support you, and your local colleges that you value their association with your academy.
How do you value your business partners? Provide opportunities for your business partners to be thanked by the students, staff, parents and school. This can be an end-of-year celebration, a formal certificate of appreciation, thank you letters from the students following a field trip experience, letters of appreciation sent to employers who have provided employee support, or formal commendations to employers from your school board. Thank your partners for every activity they provide in support of your academy.
Example: Our academy students write thank you letters in their English academy class after field trips. This is both a writing assignment and a lesson in how you respond appropriately when someone has provided a service for you.
Provide opportunities for your business partners to learn about student success. The goal of your academy is to guide your students to graduation, higher education, and successful careers. Your partners support these goals. Without violating student privacy, devise ways to highlight student improvement in grades, attendance and attitude and share this information with your partners. They want to know that their efforts are producing positive results.
The greatest compliment that you can give to your business partners is to use the information that they provide you. Value what your business partners recommend, offer in assistance, and report back to you after an activity is completed. They see what is happening in your academy in different ways than the faculty or administration may. Sometimes partners are more positive about an event than the faculty, and sometimes they have concerns. Value this information and adjust your next activity to reflect them. When partners see that the school respects their input, they feel a vital part of the academy operation.
Sample Advisory Board Agendas:
AGENDA FOR MEETING OCTOBER 19TH, 2010
1. Introductions all around: Ben
2. Overview: Ben Covers what happened at graduation, during the summer (jobs), college-going rates, the start-up of the Fall semester (classes, students, cohorts,…) and current challenges.
3. Overview of curriculum: Ben on Networks and Melody on Web Design/Content. Each to spend about 15 minutes of show and tell to indicate what is being taught and the basic approach. Should include what the Advisory Board could do to contribute.
Examples of work: The lab at El Cerrito (Bob Davis), the new ITA/TF web site, student work from Melody’s class.
4. Summer jobs program: Chris
Summary of prep….field trips, soft skills training, portfolios, Youth Works collaboration.
Summary of number of students placed and companies.
Recognition of AT&T Aspire Grant.
5. El Cerrito Career Academies: The Principal’s Perspective: Jason Reimann
Jason reviews the status and prospects for the three academies at EC and his personal commitment to their success. Takes questions. 10-15 minutes.
6. Overview of Linked Learning Initiative: Ron to do a quick update on some of the progress….mostly from the Connect Ed site…let’s be sure to have Patricia Clark invited. Will also tie in some of the Federal and State initiatives. 10 minutes
Sample PowerPoint Slides for a Presentation to Advisory Board:
Section XII – Work Based Learning
Work Based Learning Opportunities (WBL): Within the West Contra Costa Unified School (WCCUSD) and the Linked Learning model, WBL is defined as structured activities incorporated in the curriculum which apply knowledge and skills learned in class which connect to experiences at work.
An internship is a chance to use a “business classroom” to connect with what is happening at school, to add value to the educational experience, and to clarify the vast number of options available to students. Through internships, the student’s education is improved by:
Introducing the intern to modern workplace equipment and actual workplace problems
Giving young people access to experiences that require more knowledge and skills than ordinary “student jobs”
Giving educators and employers the chance to work together in preparing students for success in the workplace
Helping students understand the importance of their classroom instruction
Providing experience to list on the student’s resume
Giving students the opportunity to have a real world experience in a career field in which they have an interest
Creating possible future opportunities for young people in the companies where they intern (and possible future employees for companies that need them
Allowing employers to build alliances with local schools. Together, employers and educators can deliver a powerful message of the importance of education.
Students involved in an internship gather firsthand experience in modern business practices and skills. They learn what is necessary to complete assigned tasks in a timely manner, how to comport themselves responsibly and professionally, how employees work together, and the many opportunities available to them. They get the chance to practice or observe current technology, teamwork and cooperation, and basic business decorum. Internships provide an excellent opportunity for young people to question adults about their careers. They can view the myriad of possibilities within each career field; discern what they like and dislike about a particular job; and learn what skills, knowledge, and education are necessary for the career in which they have an interest. Because internships are not the same as jobs, students can learn more about the company than they would as an employee.
Internships assist the classroom teacher by giving the student a context to which they can relate their schoolwork. Research, writing, speaking, computation, analysis, problem solving, use of technology, organization, and responsibility are all inseparable parts of the modern workplace. When students can see the imminent value of their education first hand, a natural, honest motivation occurs, and gives value to that which the teacher has to offer. Students who serve internships learn the answer to “Why do we need to learn this?” first hand, and do not need to be apprised of the value of their academic instruction. They also see the relationship between job quality and level of education, and often return to school more motivated to go to college than beforehand.
Classroom instruction which augments the internship experience can be part of this experience. Examples include journal-keeping, resume building, and portfolio development. Lessons in all disciplines can be geared to relate the internship experience to academic skills. Such activities help to emphasize for students the connection between school and work, showing them practical applications for their learning and opening their minds to possible futures beyond what academic instruction alone usually achieves.
Organizing an Internship Program
The coordinator is crucial to an effective internship program. He or she should be carefully selected as one who is knowledgeable in, and dedicated to, the values of work-based learning. The coordinator will generally have final responsibility for development and implementation of the internship program, and will work with students, parents, teachers, mentors, supervisors, site and district administrators, and business to bring together a rigorous and valuable experience. This is a pivotal role, requiring interest, dedication, and time.
The coordinator may be an academic or vocational teacher, a school-to-work or cooperative education coordinator, a high school or district administrator, or an Academy coordinator. Any of these professionals can do a fine job of putting the program into effect, provided they the proper support. The coordinator must have the trust and backing of the school and district’s top administrators. Superintendents and principals can show their support for the program by discussing it in positive terms with the faculty, local business representatives, and community members. They also need to allot time to the coordinator to run the program.
NOTE: Remember, business generally takes place during regular work hours (typically Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). A teacher with classroom responsibilities during this time may have difficulty developing necessary partnerships and keeping appointments with business partners. Extra preparation time, some release from the school schedule, is necessary for this to take place. Try to schedule this time around the lunch period – business can be done at this time, and civic organizations (i.e., Rotary International, Lions Club, Soroptomist’s Club) also meet then, and can be a great resource for partnership development.
Coordinator Roles and Responsibilities
Each of the following are pivotal aspects of the Coordinator’s position:
Identifying, recruiting, and orienting employer partners
Promoting the program to teachers, students, and parents
Recruitment and preparation of students for employer partners to interview
Organizing the Student Worksite Learning Plan, and other program policies and procedures
Monitoring the progress of both students and employers at the work site
Evaluating student interns
Working with teachers on curriculum to bolster the relevance of instruction as it pertains to internship,
Organizing a culminating activity and/or closing celebration
Reviewing and revising the program with employer partners.
Since this work is crucial for an internship program, let’s look at each of these responsibilities in more depth. The coordinator should develop a timeline or action plan for putting each step into motion.
Identify, recruit, and orient business partners.
Although there are examples of programs that have been initiated by employers out of a need for better qualified employees, and often out of a sense of community involvement, this is the exception. More often, it is the responsibility of the Academy team, and specifically the Academy Internship Coordinator, to meet this need.
Before planning to recruit employers for participation in your program, four basic but pertinent questions should be addressed:
What will employers be asked to do?
Which employers will be targeted for recruitment?
Why should employers participate in your program?
How will employers be recruited?
Once these questions have been discussed, if not fully answered, you will be better prepared to complete this task successfully. The first question is of paramount importance, for if this is not clearly defined, it will be difficult to attract quality businesses as partners.
There are many ways employers can be useful to your Academy internship program (in addition to simply providing a workplace where students can gain experience). These include:
Input on workplace validity of the curriculum
Program policy development and decision making
Recruitment of other employers/partners
Screening/interviewing of program applicants
Creation of work-based staff development opportunities for teachers
Job shadowing and career exposure assistance
Development of work site learning plans
Evaluation of student interns
Authentic audience for student presentations
Internship programs can vary. A first step in recruiting employers is to define your goals, the intended focus and scope of your program? Is it to have every student participate, or only some. Do you want paid positions or unpaid ones? Is your intent simply to further career awareness among your students, or to provide a fully restructured applied learning environment? Job shadowing and brief and/or unpaid internships can provide a level of career awareness. A longer paid internship will achieve more. Will the level of involvement be the same for all students? To be unclear about your goals and the scope of your program is to risk looking unprepared when approaching employers. The better prepared you are, the more likely they will participate.
It is wise to seek the participation of representatives from all Academy stakeholders – teaching, administration, counseling, students, parents, and Steering Committee members – when addressing these questions of intent. Only then can you get a clear idea of the needs and desires of the community at large, and only then will you be able to count on stakeholder support for the decisions that are made. Ask yourself and your stakeholders the following questions, and make your decisions based on the responses:
How structured do your partners want this program to be?
How many students will be participating in the program? How many at each business?
Will internships be paid or unpaid?
Will internships take place during summer? After school? Weekends?
Are all potential interns willing to make a commitment to an internship?
Are all students going to participate in the internship program?
The answer to these questions may vary. You may wish to keep your program flexible – allow certain business partners to offer a one week, unpaid internship, while others develop a more elaborate program. Use the expertise of your Steering Committee and business partners to help make these determinations. If you allow the program to be responsive to the needs of your business partners and students, to be flexible rather than rigid, it will function more fluidly and with less conflict.
Once these decisions are made, it is responsibility of the coordinator to find employers willing to invest the time and resources needed to provide internship opportunities. Some local employers may already be working with your school in various contexts: cooperative education programs, technical high schools/programs, existing internship programs, or Academies. Your local Chamber of Commerce can be a wonderful resource. Another good source is local civic organizations: e.g., Rotary International, Soroptomists, Lions Clubs, and the like. These groups typically meet weekly or monthly, generally at lunchtime, and are often seeking guest speakers. Your principal, superintendent, and board members are likely to be members of the various groups in your community, and may be able to assist you in gaining introductions and/or arranging an opportunity to speak about your program and recruit business partners.
The next step is to develop a master list of prospective employers, with an address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, and contact person for each. You may wish to include a brief abstract (just a sentence or two) regarding the school’s current or past relationship with that company and any other pertinent information. Another good step is to develop a brochure geared to the business community and do a mailing to the businesses on your list. Follow up the mailing with phone calls, inviting these potential partners to an informational meeting. This lets you meet with many business representatives at once, and lets them learn from each other and perhaps support each others' involvement. An aid to this endeavor is the site or district Career Counselor. These professionals will often have much of this information at their fingertips, and can be of tremendous assistance in accomplishing any tasks that require the help of the business community.
Another approach, often necessary with some employers, is to set up an appointment at the company to discuss your program. Be well prepared for this meeting. Have a clear agenda in mind. Your presentation should be concise and to the point. Bring a brochure geared to business partners, detailing your program. Know what you will need from these partners, tell them, and also include it in your brochure so they can peruse it at their convenience. Be specific about these needs, with a timeline. If possible, take an existing business partner to this meeting – this will add strength to your presentation, as he or she can detail the merits of your program. A member of your Steering Committee can also serve in this role.
Once you have secured the involvement of a core group of employers, you will probably need to meet with them again to review the specifics of the program and prepare them for implementation. This may be done on an individual basis, although again a group meeting saves time and assures that all participants receive the same information. It also provides a chance for them to share observations with each other, and to see themselves as an extended part of the Academy team. At this meeting cover student application and matchup plans, student dress and behavior expectations, evaluation and assessment plans, the student interview and selection schedule, planned monitoring visits, and future meetings. It is a good idea to bring copies of pertinent forms and documents, discussing them, and determining a timeline for their use during the internship period.
NOTES: 1) Be certain that partners know how to contact you. Frustration on the part of your partners can cause them to become ex-partners, and ex-partners can cause others to be disinclined to work with you. 2) The top person in the company will be most able to make decisions to help your program succeed. However, these people are often difficult to meet with. Try to get your superintendent involved in making these connections. CEO’s will generally make time for other CEO’s. The superintendent – your CEO – can often make this connection when others can’t.
Promote the program to teachers, students, and parents.
It is important to generate excitement about the program at your school for it to be a success. As in many aspects of the Academy, you are dealing with what for some will be new and unusual ways of doing business, in what is often a very traditional structure. The unknown or misunderstood often breeds resentment and fear, and a failure to clarify your plans and purposes can create problems.
Once your program has been in existence for awhile, it will be its own public relations tool. That is, students, parents, teachers, and business partners who have participated and/or observed the program will provide testimonials and anecdotal evidence, and build momentum. As you begin your internship program, however, it is important to provide information not only to those you wish to recruit, but also to your colleagues at the high school. Take a little time at faculty meetings to apprise the staff of what you’re doing. Hold informational meetings in the evening, and invite not only parents but interested community members. Invite the local newspaper and other media figures to report on business partner and student orientation meetings. Seek the aid of other teachers for help in recruitment. Ask your principal to show her/his support in a public way. To involve staff and community is to avoid the spread of misinformation and misgivings.
Select and prepare students for employer partners to interview.
Because you are developing a program within an Academy, presumably there is a career focus in which your students have an interest. It is now time to subdivide these interests into various aspects of the industry. Within each broad career field, there are many different jobs and career options. Through interest inventories and other similar tools, as well as the knowledge your team of teachers has about its clients, students can be ensured the best possible internship match, and good matches help your program flourish.
A useful step at this point is to develop an application form that will help you determine each student’s interests, and review these with care (a sample can be found in the appendix). Discuss successful interview strategies in class, and conduct practice interviews. You can ask business partners to assist in this, as they are the professionals. Let students know that, just like in the real world of work, the process for placement will be competitive, and that business partners will interview and select their choice of interns. This “raises the bar” for students and takes some of the pressures off the coordinator.
Teachers may assist students in preparing for their interview by encouraging them to:
Participate in lessons on interview techniques
Participate in mock interviews
Prepare a resume and cover letter
Brainstorm possible questions and appropriate answers
Decline offered food or beverages
Be friendly and outgoing, but not to talk too much
Be concise and to the point
Arrive prepared to complete employment applications, and with all necessary paperwork
Thank the interviewer
Follow-up with a thank you note
Develop Student Worksite Learning Plans
The goals of a successful internship program are two-fold: to meet employers’ expectations, and provide a quality educational experience for students. To meet these goals, work with the employer partner to develop a written work site plan. This plan should include what the student is expected to do on the job, and the assignments he or she must carry out to meet educational expectations. Because this is an internship it is important that it entail more than eight hours of filing or answering telephones each day. Students should learn about modern business practices, teamwork, job-specific skills, appropriate business behavior and dress, safety practices, and ethics. They should also be exposed to various aspects of the business, either through hands-on experience or observation. The Worksite Learning Plan serves in effect as a contract, spelling out the program purposes and responsibilities on both sides. A sample form for development of a Work Site Learning Plan is included in the appendix.
Monitor the progress of both students and employers at the work site.
After interns are placed with employers it is necessary to track their progress and their developing relationship with the partner business. Depending on the number of students placed, the coordinator may or may not be able to conduct these on-site checks alone. A plan should be developed that is acceptable to the business partner for regularly viewing the intern at work and conducting a brief meeting with the intern and supervisor. In this way, potential problems may be circumvented, and the internship experience may be kept meaningful and productive. The person conducting the visitation should keep a journal of what they see, hear, and perceive about the student at work in order to answer any questions from parents or administrators, as well as to assist in the evaluation at the internship’s conclusion. This monitoring can be done both formally and informally. Unannounced drop-ins can sometimes provide different insights to the student’s experience than planned evaluative meetings.
Conduct endpoint evaluations of student interns.
The next step is to establish a process for evaluating students' internship experiences. This should include not only the concluding evaluation, but at least one benchmark assessment along the way (depending on the length of the internship). Evaluations should be based on written employer evaluations, the coordinator’s assessment during monitoring of the intern, and completion of required assignments. Evaluation that’s done well will give the intern a clear idea of skills that must be developed or augmented during the senior year. The evaluation should be structured to be developmental and constructive rather than punitive. It is often helpful to have the students evaluate their own performance, after which a “gap analysis” can take place – places where the student’s self-evaluation diverges broadly from that of her/his supervisor. Discussions of such gaps and be very instructive, including an analysis of the reasons for the different perceptions.
Work with key teachers on curriculum.
If teachers are familiar with what employees need to know and be able to do for success in the workplace, they can more effectively connect their classroom instruction to work site needs and competencies. The best way for this awareness to be developed is for Academy academic and technical teachers to participate in the internship program, particularly in site visits and evaluations. With the opportunity to view students at the work site, and discuss their needs, strengths, and weaknesses with intern supervisors, teachers become more aware of the activities at a modern work site. From this they can gain plan assignments and projects for the classroom to strengthen these areas. It may be useful for the coordinator to organize staff development training for the team. Assistance in curriculum development in general, and integrated curriculum projects in particular, are useful to connect the classroom with the work site.
Organize a culminating activity and/or closing celebration.
You may wish to recruit the help of parent volunteers and/or employer partners in planning a celebration of your internship accomplishments. However it is organized, it is important to celebrate your program’s successes. School representatives, students, teachers, employer partners, and parents should all be invited.
This is a good opportunity for students to “stand and deliver” their accomplishments in front of a largely adult/professional audience. Students might be asked to develop a display documenting their internship experience, including their portfolio materials. They may be asked to give brief presentations of what they’ve accomplished. There can be a culminating awards ceremony, where certificates of completion are distributed (software that makes professional looking certificates is easy to find and inexpensive, and certificates look good on everyone’s refrigerator!). Supervisor testimonials are important to the students and your program. It is a good idea to have these transcribed for future public relations use. However you choose to structure this event, it is a good opportunity for everyone involved to see the connection being made between school and work, and the importance of this connection. Of course refreshments are mandatory!
Review, evaluate, and revise the program with employer partners.
In business, this is usually called debriefing. It is important to find time shortly after the end of your internship period to meet with school officials and business partners to discuss what went well and what needs revision. Encourage all participants to be candid; it is not a failure to admit things weren’t perfect. Valuable insights can be gained from business partners regarding curricular needs teachers might address, and the school may see ways employers can augment the workplace learning to expand student understanding of the connection between the two.
Information that comes from this meeting might be disseminated to critical school staff in order to better train students in workplace competencies school wide. Arrange with the principal to share these findings, and to help develop a plan to address these recommendations.
The Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa works with educators, businesses and community partners to provide all participants a relevant education that includes awareness of and access to career opportunities, employment, and preparation for post-secondary education and lifelong learning. The Summer Youth Program provides a work-based learning experience for participants between the ages of 14-24.
Key elements of CC Youth@Work program:
• Work Experience (WX) is in a range of professional settings and provides participants an opportunity
to gain a broad understanding of a career field.
• Incorporates learning goals agreed upon by the participant, the worksite supervisor, and a Career
Counselor, who also supervises the participant throughout the summer.
• Has an educational component, building upon community classroom learning and career
• A WX is a powerful hands-on learning experience for a participant.
Benefits of participating as an employer partner:
• Productive contribution by participant in the workplace.
(in publications and website, newspaper, and events).
• Heightened workplace pride and morale, a chance for employees to develop and practice leadership
and mentoring skills.
• Targeted investment in the local workforce assures skilled workers in your industry.
• Direct contribution to building communities in Contra Costa County.
How does it work?
• Employers/Worksites submit an application to CC Youth@Work Project Manager.
• Participants complete an application and submit it to the Career Counselor, who forwards the
application to the CC Youth@Work office with their recommendation.
• The CC Youth@Work office, in collaboration with partner agencies, match participants with
employer/worksite partners, based on employer/worksite job description, student skills and interests,
schedules, and Career Counselor recommendation.
• All employers/worksite supervisors attend an orientation before the start of the summer to discuss
specifics about participants in the workplace. The goal is to assure a quality experience that is
positive for both the employer/worksite partner and the participant.
• The CC Youth@Work program will provide a youth participant approximately 120 hours of subsidized
work experience with an hourly wage of $8.25 per hour.
• The CC Youth@Work Office is available throughout the summer to address any questions or
concerns that may arise.
YouthWORKS – Summer Youth Employment Program
The Youth Summer Employment Program is a yearly program that offers Richmond Youth the chance to work in a variety of local jobs. Youth participants will gain professional experience working in government agencies, non-profits and private businesses.
Mentorship can take many forms, but should be part of a student’s experience in a Linked Learning Pathway or Career Academy. Developing mentorship programs take time and strategy. Why try to figure it out all yourself? Check out the Mentorship Guide developed by UC Berkeley’s College and Career Academy Support Network at the link below.
Study trips can be valuable experiences for students, especially if they connect to what is going on in the classroom. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a study trip:
Study Trips must align with your Pathway Outcomes
Study Trips must align with the District Graduate Profile
Do not plan study trips during testing windows
Study Trip forms must be submitted 30 days prior to the trip
Consider how a study trip might enhance an integrated project
Here’s the link to the forms for study trips: http://www.wccusd.net/cms/lib03/CA01001466/Centricity/Domain/69/Study%20Trip%20Procedures%20Manual.pdf
Job shadowing experiences allow students to follow – or shadow – a working professional in his/her workplace. These can occur for short periods of time, such as one day, or also for longer periods. The Junior Achievement organization excels in setting up job shadowing opportunities. The District contact for Junior Achievement is Stacey Martin (email@example.com). Stacey works with many pathways in the District, and is an excellent resource for job shadows and mentorship opportunities.
Guest Speakers Bringing industry professionals into your pathway can help students see a future for themselves, relate what they are learning to the real world, and learn more about college and career planning. Most lead teachers utilize their advisory board members to gain access to guest speakers. Students gain the most from a quest speaker when they have done some pre-work prior to the visit, such as researching the company or industry, or drafting questions they would want to ask the guest speaker. Some programs create panels of guest speakers, while some teachers interview the guest speaker in front of the class allowing for student questions afterward. The District CCRC staff and coaches can assist you in thinking about how to get the most out of a guest speaker experience for your students.
Work Based Learning Continuum Internships, mentorships, study trips, guest speakers are all part of what we consider a work based learning continuum. These are all challenging aspects of program development, and take time to implement effectively and to scale. Yet another challenge of work based learning is to have it timed and integrated in such a way that it directly connects to what students experience in the classroom. Further challenge exists in creating a sequence of these work based learning experiences that build on each other and provide work based learning opportunities for all students. To support this effort, ConnectEd has created the Work Based Learning Guide. Check out this useful resource at http://www.connectedcalifornia.org/direct/files/resources/WBL%20Definitions%20Outcomes%20Criteria_pg_120512_v2.pdf.
Section XIII – Useful References This section contains many of the links in the body of the Handbook, compiled here for ease of use.
Main Web Site: www.connectedcalifornia.org
ConnectEd Studios: www.connectedstudios.org
Behaviors of Learning and Teaching Framework: http://www.connectedcalifornia.org/direct/files/resources/BLT%20Overview_Continuum_GSG_121712.pdf