Without a doubt, attending college is a significant investment of both time and money. For many students such a long-term investment is not feasible or simply not desired. Without a set of concrete job skills, the decision to directly enter the workforce after high school is risky and ill-advised. Work-based learning opportunities, such as vocational training or apprenticeships, provide an excellent path for students in these situations who still want a path to a meaningful and productive career. Below are numerous work-based learning opportunities students could consider.
If you're looking for a quick way to see if a particular job is for you, consider job shadowing. Job shadowing can be short-term or long-term and involves "shadowing" a specific career. Shadowing gives a student a chance to see if they would like a certain job or not. In high school, students can work with our school's Career Coach to set up job shadowing in our area.
Do you like to serve your community? Have you ever considered taking your involvement to the next level and making it your career? Maybe you volunteer at a local food bank or a service organization like Habitat for Humanity. The are numerous places to volunteer your time. While you are giving back to your community, you are also exploring different work environments that just might inspire your future career choice.
Cooperative education (often called "co-op") is an opportunity for a student to combine classroom instruction with paid employment. The school and the employer supervise and coordinate instruction time as well as hands-on work so that each component contributes to the student's career objectives. At Fort Defiance, students have the opportunity to take an agricultural co-op during junior or senior year.
Mentorship is another way to explore a particular career, but it's more in-depth than job shadowing. While spending time in the workplace, you have the opportunity to develop a relationship with an accomplished worker who will provide guidance, support, feedback, and instruction. At Fort Defiance, students have the opportunity to apply for the mentorship program in the winter of their junior year. Selected students will spend part of their senior year mentoring in our community. Interested students should see their school counselor.
Apprenticeships offer students opportunities to study and work at the same time. Participants in these programs can earn a wage at a job and take related vocational courses, typically working towards a degree. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry manages the Virginia Registered Apprenticeship training system. See the video below for more information about this program.