July 30, 2014
When helping students, businesses benefit too! During the 2013-14 school year more than 250 businesses across North Dakota participated in Succeed 2020 activities. These activities ranged from career fairs to job shadows and internships.
Students learn from businesses in a variety of ways. One approach involves college and career fairs supported by partnerships with REAs’ Succeed 2020 programs, local and regional employers, school districts and other community partners. For example, the North Central Education Cooperative (NCEC, based in Bottineau) hosted two fairs, one for high school students and another for middle school students. During the high school career fair, students practiced hands-on skills with medical professionals.
The Roughrider Educational Services Program (RESP, based in Dickinson) and the Red River Valley Education Cooperative (RRVEC, based in Grand Forks) also gave students a taste of the world of work. RESP’s career fair allowed students to explore jobs in career areas ranging from agriculture to information technology to transportation. RESP took special care to ensure students could learn about jobs in the energy industry. For students in the Red River Valley, businesses brought major equipment such as robotics for the students to try.
The Missouri River Educational Cooperative (MREC, based in Mandan) created two focused career symposia, one on information technology and the other on health care. The information technology careers symposium started with a panel of speakers from four different organizations, followed by a college student panel with speakers from two local postsecondary institutions. Students also toured the Dakota Carrier Network, National Information Solutions Cooperative, and Silicon Plains, three of the major information technology employers in the area. The health care symposium reached students in rural communities outside of Bismarck and Mandan through speakers from Garrison Memorial Hospital/Clinic, Garrison Ambulance, and North Dakota Area Health Education Center. The employers offered students hand-on opportunities to examine an ambulance and a patient simulator.
Once students get exposure to careers, they need to explore careers on a more regular basis and learn more about how to prepare for them. The Mid Dakota Education Cooperative (MDEC, based in Minot) gave students the opportunity to participate in job shadows and internships. More than 55 businesses partnered with MDEC during the 2013-14 school year! Businesses reported great benefits from having students visit and intern. All of the participating employers have agreed to continue to host students, and85 percent said that the students who visited or interned were well-prepared. One student who excelled in the summer internship work was offered a full-time position at the completion of the program.
Another business noted that job shadow and internship programs like MDEC hosts are incredibly beneficial to businesses, as recruiting efforts become increasingly challenging in the west. Businesses want local talent—and job shadows and internships give business direct access to prepared students.
Businesses can contribute to students’ career awareness and exploration in both big and small ways—but businesses also benefit directly from these contributions.