In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama asked states to consider increasing the minimum age for a student to leave school to 18. How do we keep youth engaged and motivated? Teens are unique and their educational experiences should be unique as well. The cookie cutter approach to education leads to our teens dropping out of school or graduating from high school unprepared for higher education or the workforce. The “old way” of teaching is driving our national education reform efforts.
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, high school drop outs from the class of 2006-2007 will cost the US more than $329 million in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetime because those who drop out are more likely to be incarcerated, rely on public programs and social services, and go without health insurance than those who graduate from high school. A college education may not be for everyone but graduation from high school is a MUST.
During a recent presentation, a high school student asked if she should wear her school uniform to her job interview at a fast food restaurant the following day. Here are the facts – the young lady has a half day schedule at school and the potential employer is aware that she is a student and instructed her to come right after school. My answer was that she shouldn’t wear her school uniform to her interview if she had the ability to bring a change of clothing to school with her and change into it in ten minutes or less.
Young people need to know how to truly “dress for success”. Have you explained to your youth that fabric, color, length, fit, and style matter? Just because a student is wearing a skirt or a pair of slacks doesn’t mean they’re dressed professionally. Whether interviewing for a part-time position, applying for seasonal or summer work, or attending a college fair students should dress “up” with the option of going casual later if the environment permits.
I encourage teens to do what they love. I believe that teens should do what they love when it comes to hobbies, community services, and employment. So, when asked the question is there a difference between a job and a career my answer is a resounding yes.
A job is what you do to earn money but a career is a series of connected employment endeavors. Let me use myself as an example. Since graduating from college many years ago I have been employed in various organizations working with various populations – families, pre-school and elementary school, pre-teens, teens and teen parents. I have also volunteered in many different capacities, and just like my employment opportunities, they all fit perfectly in my social work career path. All of my jobs have led me further down the same career track.
Experience is a great teacher. On the job training is a bonus and not a rule in many places of employment and that is the main reason that I highly recommend that all high school and college students complete an internship. Many students who are seeking employment aren’t hired because they lack experience. They are unable to gain experience because no one will hire them. An internship has many short and long-term benefits. I have listed some of them below.
Intern – any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession