This July, the non-credit course Intensive Training for Employment was offered to Beacon College students and alumni for the first time. Although the group was small, each student learned a lot about the professional world and how to set and achieve their goals in it. There is a strong possibility for program growth in the future.
Kendal Paget, Director of Career Development, initiated the creation of this program when he recognized the need for an intensive focus on learning professional skills. The program was designed to benefit both underclassmen, who had yet to take the Career Development course, as well as upperclassmen and alumni. The intention was to supplement what students will learn (or have already learned) in their curriculum.
Participants in this course had morning internships. Their locations this summer were the Leesburg Public Library and the Leesburg Center for the Arts. These internships not only provided students with valuable work experience, but also gave them real world examples to discuss in their afternoon class sessions. The students were able to put what they learned in class to immediate use in their internships, and the small group environment gave them the opportunity to discuss potential workplace issues and troubleshoot them in a safe environment.
In the afternoon class sessions, the group would discuss what was learned in their internships that morning, as well as review key workplace skills. Practical considerations, such as what time to arrive for an interview, how to prepare, what to bring, and what to expect, were reviewed. A workplace word of the day was introduced each afternoon, and students were frequently presented with common workplace scenarios and asked how they would respond. The goal was to ensure that students left the course with a complete understanding of how to navigate the work world starting from the interview process.
Since the course was the only one held in July, there was plenty of opportunity to bring in guest speakers from around campus. Kelly Rogers, a job transitions coach, covered the topic of appropriate attire for work and a job interview. Dr. Fleming discussed the importance of technology in the workplace and stressed the need for responsible use of social media both as a college student and as a job seeker. Dr. Bridgeman visited the class to assist with practice interviews so the class could experience different interviewing styles. This was an important component, according to Kendal Paget, as he saw the “potential for real growth in interview skills.”
Career coaching was another unique and vital element of this program. Hank Harvey, one of our resident life coaches, co-taught the class and held individual coaching sessions with each of the students. This challenged students to seriously consider their career paths, along with their goals and plans for achieving them. After being introduced to the three steps to life coaching: goal setting; action steps; accountability, students completed coaching employment packets.
By the end of July, students had real world work experience to add to their resumes, and they also had a more in-depth grasp of expectations both during the interview process and in the workplace. Kendal Paget is already evaluating what worked well for this inaugural course and what could be done to grow the program for next summer. The students are taking their knowledge with them as they proceed with their studies at Beacon College and, for one of them, head into the world of work.