The Power of Work Experience for High School Students

Work experience for high school students can be a powerful career planning tool. More than one in four high school students age 16 and older work, according to data from the U.S. Census, and that number seems to be rising. Many teens are making the calculation that work experience is just what they need to prepare for whatever comes next after high school. The real-world experience of a job can make more of an impression on college admissions staff than, say, honing sports skills at the high school level. In addition, getting a job in the career area they are thinking of pursuing can help them find out if they really want to pursue a certain degree program before they start putting their time and money on the line.

Hands-on experience at ACR

This is what Caroline had in mind when she applied at ACR and got hired during her high school senior year. She was in a PSEO program taking classes at her high school and the University of Minnesota, with plans to head to the University of St. Catherine University to study nursing. While at the U of M she met ACR recruiter Brianna Palkki. She told Brianna that she was interested in getting her CNA certification to see if she really wanted to go on to get a nursing degree.  Brianna convinced her to become a DCP at ACR instead of a CNA. Brianna pointed out that Caroline could get a wider range of hands-on experience at ACR, and that ACR provides free training in CPR, First Aid, passing medications, personal care, basic nutrition, behavior management, and many other important components of being a health care professional, and pays you to take the training!

work experience for high school studentsCaroline applied at ACR during her semester break and was hired. The training process went fast—she was motivated and let her ACR trainers know she really wanted to get her training done during her break. They gave her lots of support to get it all done in just a week and a half. She found her ACR supervisor was incredibly supportive through the training process and in scheduling around Caroline’s PSEO schedule.  Because she was 18 she could work nights, so Caroline decided to work awake night shifts which gave her plenty of time to keep up on school work and keep her days flexible for classes.

What can you gain from this job?

Caroline was hoping for CNA-type experience—passing medication and basic cares and everything else that typically comes with being a CNA. She found that her work as a DCP at ACR goes far beyond the basic CNA skills she was hoping to learn. In addition, she ended up working with non-verbal residents which she found also gives her lots of relationship-building experience and opportunities to learn ways to understand and respond to them.

How work experience for high school students supports future goals

Caroline commented that working at ACR was her “first actual job” after retail work. She added,

Working at ACR was definitely a step up—there was more responsibility. Working at ACR gave me confidence that this is what I want to do. I’m passionate about it.  I know this is what I want to go to school for. My supervisor and the people in the ACR office were really great about working with me to make sure I could get my training done and arrange my hours so that I could do my course work and still provide exceptional care for my residents.