To My Fellow Teachers,
I started my professional life as a middle and high school teacher of Science (and occasionally Mathematics) and remained in that career for 16 years in classrooms across two states and in very diverse school districts.
It wasn’t until I left teaching to enter the business world that I realized that while most schools do a great job delivering academic content to students (most of whom will be entering the business world one day), our educational systems don’t really prepare students all that well for the demands their future employers will place on them.
But we can’t really expect that. Anyone who has spent any time as a teacher knows that it’s a big enough job getting students to learn core course content and elective subject matter that federal and state mandates require — and all crammed into what is not much more than a six-hour day.
But NOT preparing students for the workplace is also NOT acceptable, especially as the workplace is evolving and changing more rapidly than ever before — demanding that our young adults acquire a whole different set of skills than their parents have. To not prepare them puts their futures in jeopardy and could eventually tank our entire economy — which would impact school funding.
After I left teaching, I spent many years serving the business community as a workforce development executive for three large chambers of commerce and delivered a wide variety of programs to middle and high school students. Through that work, I learned that messages that come from students’ future employers have a great deal of impact on teenagers, regardless of almost any circumstances they might be facing. Data we gathered on our program outcomes provided hard evidence that documented our success. For example, enrollment and performance in challenging (and at the time) elective high school Mathematics (courses such as Algebra II) spiked after business people told freshmen and sophomores that Mathematics was critical to employment and job success. This reaction was especially prominent in high schools with large numbers of low-income families and was so large that schools had to hire additional Math teachers!
It would seem, therefore, that students need only a mild mental shove in the right direction to greatly improve the trajectory of their lives.
To make matters even more complicated, the workforce is evolving faster than ever before. It is moving to something called a ‘Gig Economy,’ where traditional full-time jobs will be the exception and one-shot assignments, or ‘gigs,’ will be the norm. That adds an entirely new dimension to what students have to learn to be employed adults. They have to learn how to move from job to job, from gig to gig, and cobble a living wage together by working for multiple employers at a time, all in the virtual world. If they find full-time traditional jobs, data indicate that job will only last a few years, at which point they will be back in ‘job-search’ mode.
They not only need hard skills (the academic knowledge that will define their career opportunities), soft skills (various attitudes and behaviors that will allow them to keep the jobs they get), and search skills (the ability to market themselves and their skills to secure a steady stream of short-term employment). This is especially critical given that most workers will have a as many as 14 jobs during their lifetimes.
Students in high school today will need to be as adept at finding a job as they might ever need to be to do the job they get. The only way they can become really skilled at the job acquisition process is to learn about the demands they will face in the future, practice in simulated environments that allow them to figure out how to respond to those demands, and apply what they’ve learned in a real-world experience.
That’s why we wrestled all of that to the ground and invented a completely new internship experience. Essentially, we turned the traditional internship experience upside down. We have shifted the emphasis from learning during the internship itself to learning during the process of acquiring the internship. As a result, our Rainmakers Candidates go light years beyond the standard on-the-job internship experience and the typical job application/interview scenario.
Join us. Help launch The Internship Depot programs in your schools. Speak with your school administrators and encourage them to call us and we will make it happen. Watch students blossom as they absorb academic content during the day and learn why they should be doing just that in our evening podcasts or while participating in our fun and engaging activities. That’s exactly why you became a teacher.
I look forward to working with you.
Dana Elizabeth Egreczky
President and CEO
The Internship Depot
Challenge Central LLC