Students can teach more than they learn … if you let them!
Remember work experience?
Two weeks in Year 10 and maybe 3-12 months in a degree.
I’ve seen work experience kids in many situations.
And I believe they have much to offer business.
When I was 15, I helped my carpenter brother extend the Wallan Hotel.
Dawn starts, cold pies for lunch and psycho men with nail guns soon made me realise I didn’t want to be a builder after all.
Forced to find another path, I chose human resources which, all things considered, wasn’t a bad stepping stone to copywriting.
As a Personnel / Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at Holden’s Engine Company, one of my tasks was to dismantle a 40-year tradition of workplace pornography.
Every strategy I tried failed miserably.
Until I expanded the high school work experience program and sent the teenage daughters of shift supervisors into each other’s domains.
The porn vanished overnight, freeing me to increase the 5% female workforce participation rate.
During a work experience seminar, I heard a trainee engineer describe his 12-week project at a major tobacco firm.
He’d thought of reducing the paper overlap between cigarette and filter by 1 mm.
As ciggies were taxed by weight, this minute initiative saved the firm $1m in its first year!
As I ramped up my secondary and tertiary work experience programs, department managers started getting kids back for holidays, special projects and, eventually, full-time jobs.
These bright kids, full of ideas, initiative and ambition, gave everyone far less trouble than ‘fresh’ hires who’d never set foot in the factory.
By the time I left HR, I seldom had to look ‘outside’ for top-notch graduate recruits.
Handled the old way, work experience kids are a drag.
It takes effort to find or create ‘work’ for them.
(And God help them if that involves coffee, filing and photocopying.)
If, however, you show them a real business problem and give them the access, resources and latitude to have a crack as they see fit, the results can be stunning.
1. Describe your most profound work experience memory.
2. Does your business have work experience kids?
- Yes. What do you think of them?
- No. Why don’t you give one a go?
3. Work experience helps kids take their place in our nation’s future. Discuss.
4. I don’t use work experience kids because they’re too:
- Time consuming.
- All of the above.
- Other (describe).
Answer as many questions as you can.
If a question is too hard, try the others and return later if you have time.
Results count for 20% of marks in this subject.