Kids Choosing Careers: Employers Partner with the Muskegon Made Program
written by: Jennifer Balgooyen
Over the last several years, educators have worked hard at preparing kids for college. Through standardized tests, course selections, and extracurricular pursuits, students build a portfolio they hope colleges will approve of.
The downside is students are not meeting their original goals. According to statistics, students will change majors multiple times and in Michigan, 50% of those college students will drop out before graduation. This lack of retention hurts families financially and effects the local economy and community as a whole.
How can we best prepare our students to make important career choices?
In Muskegon County, and new career development initiative as been launched: Muskegon Made. (www.muskegonmade.com) The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District in partnership with local districts and area employers, is working to provide clarity on vocational aptitude at a much earlier age. Through county-wide experiences such as curriculum development, job shadowing, talent tours, and internships: students will have a better understanding of what is a good career choice, or perhaps of what doesn’t fit.
One local student, Lauren Gale, has had an exceptional experience completing an internship through the Muskegon Made program.
Lauren had a dream of becoming a nurse, but what she wanted was an opportunity to experience it first hand: before committing precious time and resources. “A friend of the family suggested I ask the counseling office if I could do an internship. I was interested in nursing, but when I contacted doctors offices about doing a job shadow, they were not responding”.
With the new collaboration, students benefit from career development specialists who can connect a work-based learning experience to an employer who will host them. This is a great opportunity for local area employers to provide direct support in the education of students in the workplace.
“I was connected with the Muskegon Made program, and I was offered an amazing opportunity through the Cancer & Hematology Centers of West Michigan”. Lauren completed a unique 18 week internship where she was able to job shadow many aspects of the profession. Between patient registration, lab services, chemotherapy, and nursing staff, Lauren was able to garner a broad look at the profession she wanted to pursue.
When asked about her experience, Lauren’s face lights up.
”It’s really cool. I was able to ask each person I worked with about their background, how they got there, and if they enjoyed what they were doing. They allowed me to shadow in every area. I would never have been able to see all the connections without this experience”.
When asked about what she learned, this is what Lauren had to say:
“The medical field is not just about doctors and nurses. There are probably 20 different people that have some critical role with just one patient. This experience has affirmed my love for patient care and nursing, but I also have a new interest in lab work. There is amazing science behind the test results and how that drives decisions. It’s really cool.”
Lauren is class president, and a graduating senior of North Muskegon High School. She has been offered in excess of 40k in scholarships to attend the nursing program at Calvin College in the fall.
“Now my big dream is to become a nurse and do missionary work.”
Nicole Corley, Site Manager at Cancer & Hematology Centers of West Michigan has been instrumental in the development in of a new internship program.
“Students have great value in our organization. They provide an extra set of eagar hands to perform urgent tasks that arise on a daily basis. She speaks to her friends about her success story, and it gets the word out that Oncology is very rewarding”.
When asked about how she approached the startup of the new internship program, this is what Nicole had to say:
“Because we have diversity in job roles, Lauren was able to job shadow six different departments. We then talked about what her specific interests were and scheduled her more in nursing. Certain staff were willing to do on the job training and everyone really enjoyed it.”
What was really surprising, was that at the end of the semester, Lauren was awarded a paid internship over the summer. “Lauren is such a fantastic kid. It’s because she asked for the extra opportunity that we created the role. If you don’t ask the question, you will never know!”
The Muskegon Made program has a mission: to support ALL Muskegon County students with career pathway data, job shadowing, internships, career related events, and opportunities to attend the Career Tech Center. The partnerships formed within the local school districts and area businesses provide the foundation for this work.
For more information about the Muskegon Made program, visit www.muskegonmade.com
*Special thanks to Stephen Pettifor: Video Production