We established the Office of Work-Based Learning at Lincoln Land Community College in July 2020. Work-based learning can take on several flavors, from a job shadowing experience which allows our students to explore a specific career, to internships that are typically done toward the end of a student’s education and may or may not lead to a position within that company. At the very least, any form of work-based learning is a great way for our students to gain real world experience and possibly college credit.
Another type of work-based learning is what we call a structured learning program. For this type of program, my role is to be somewhat of a matchmaker. I reach out to area businesses throughout our district that have open positions which are appropriate for our students. I work with those businesses to develop a customized, structured learning program to solve their staffing needs. I then work with the great resources we have on our campus such as our academic departments, career services and success coaches to find students who are interested in these positions. Interested students work with our career coaches to develop their resume based on the job description and sharpen their interviewing skills if necessary. The student interviews for the position with the company. If they’re successful, they’re offered the job and placed into a structured learning program while they’re still completing their education.
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A structured learning program provides the right mixture of education, mentoring and on-the-job training. Working with each business to map out the on-the-job training and mentoring piece allows the student to be comfortably onboarded into the position. We like to get students involved in a structured learning program before they finish their education. This helps them gain “real-world experience” as they ease into the professional working world. Once they’ve finished their education, they already have a job that they feel comfortable in, as they’ve been provided guidance through their on-the-job training.
A collaboration with Ace Sign Co. Through the hiring of Cole Thoron resulted in securing our first structured learning program. Ace Sign Co. was initially interested in setting up an IT internship. During our conversation, I uncovered their need to fill an entry-level IT position and worked with them to develop a structured learning program to fill that position.
Through this process, we realized that this model could easily be customized for other businesses and industries.
Horace Mann Educators Corporation was an early supporter of our program. Jason Weller, who was seeking a career change, completed LLCC’s Google IT Support Certificate. He was placed into a structured learning program with Horace Mann for an entry-level IT support analyst position.
I currently have IT programs developed with other employers in the district. We continue to seek out LLCC students who are interested in these positions.
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Creating structured learning programs allows us to fill a much-needed position with area businesses while creating an environment that allows our students to be comfortably onboarded into their position.
Let’s keep our students local and loyal by placing them into a work-based learning program!
I welcome the opportunity to work with your business to develop a work-based learning opportunity to solve your staffing needs.
Brenda Elliott is the director of work-based learning at Lincoln Land Community College. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 217-786-2326.