In addition to the school’s rigorous academic studies, the Corporate Work Study Program puts students on the job one day a week at corporations, law firms, banks, hospitals and non-profits throughout Lake County. The work program helps to defray more than 60 percent of the cost of their tuition; in addition, it exposes all of our students to what life is like at a professional job. They work side-by-side with professionals at companies which include Abbott Laboratories, American Hotel Register, Discover Financial Services, Illinois Tool Works, Hollister, Rust-oleum and Stericycle.
Overall, the student performance reviews at work indicate a greater than 95% satisfaction rate, but we know there is room for improvement.
Just as CRSM as a whole has three prongs to its mission: College Ready, Work-Prepared, and Committed to Faith and Justice, this year we have developed a three-prong approach to the Corporate Work Study Program. These three objectives reflect what the program expects to bring to their corporate work study partner and qualities to be developed in the students: Ownership/Agency, Communication, and Productivity/Work Efficiency. The main thrust of these three prongs is to develop in the student the transferable “soft skills” that so much recent research indicates young people are lacking as they move from college to the workplace. These skills are the foundation necessary for any professional opportunity.
- Ownership/Agency refers to traits such as integrity, professionalism, willingness to learn, reliability, and initiative, and embodies the belief that “you are responsible for your own success.”
- Communication includes verbal, written, and non-verbal cues, emotional intelligence, and the ability to seek out feedback and accept constructive criticism.
- Productivity/Work Efficiency entails developing professional habits and skills (note taking, quality assurance, time management, learning how to set goals), and learning the technological skills required to do the job.
Throughout the year, all class levels will have “professional development days” that will encourage them to work on the three different areas of focus for the CWSP. Topics covered in these professional development days include reflecting on the ways in which each student brings value to their corporate partner, writing professional thank-you notes and identifying what behaviors he/she practiced at work that help develop a positive work relationship with co-workers. For our senior class, we will again offer a workshop on social capital and the value of LinkedIn in the professional world.
Additionally, we will have many opportunities for CRSM students to learn about and explore various career paths through Lunch and Learn discussions at the school as well as a Career Fair we have planned in the Spring. By exposing students to potential careers and explicitly helping them understand the skills required for those careers, CRSM provides significant lift to the trajectory of its students’ careers and thereby serving its mission of “work prepared.”