The School-to-Work Program provides job preparation training and on-the-job experience for students with disabilities.
Think about the first job you ever had … food service, customer service, retail … the list goes on. That first employer had to take a risk on you as someone who had never held a job before, right? Well, what if you had learning challenges on top of having no work experience? Now what?
As we all know, seeking employment can be a job in itself–creating the perfect resume, completing countless applications, interviewing with multiple companies, and yet nothing pans out. Sometimes all you need is a shot, but no one is willing to give you one. The process can be frustrating to start with, but it can be worse for someone with disabilities. The School-to-Work Program, organized by Pekin Community High School, offers a built-in opportunity for students to get a jump start!
How does it work?
It’s no small feat for a larger company to get involved in the community. However, it’s an exciting perk to be employed with an organization that puts a great deal of emphasis on partnering with local initiatives such as this. Our journey with Pekin Community High School kicked-off in the fall of 2016 when students from the Life Skills and Work Supervision classes visited our Home Office to learn more about the company. After this initial meeting, it was easy to see the benefits of bringing the School-to-Work program to Pekin Insurance.
The first step in the program is to take students through the recruitment process, start to finish. This builds immeasurable confidence that will prepare them for what to expect when they are ready for full-time employment. This program provides a way to develop the marketable skills and experience needed for securing that elusive first job.
All candidates are expected to successfully complete the following steps to gain employment:
- Submit an online application
- Participate in an interview with the hiring manager
- Successfully clear a background and drug screen requirement
The big difference here is in the preparation–teachers guide students in the program with questions and appropriate social cues for interviewing; this includes making eye contact with the interviewers and shaking hands. These tools are meant to make students comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. In addition, a job coach from the high school is available to students. Having a hands-on mentor from the school paired with a great support system at Pekin Insurance makes for an awesome combination!
Why is it important?
In just a few short months, Pekin Insurance has had three students successfully obtain positions at our Home Office in the mailroom and café. Two of these students have graduated from high school and one has already secured his first full-time position with another company! Having a program such as this to help students build skills for future employment is priceless. What’s that old saying ... tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn? Same concept!
Providing a learning environment to gain not only the technical abilities for a job but the vital social skills it takes to hold employment will further increase the chances for success. Pekin Insurance is proud of its partnership with Pekin Community High School and the continued promotion of corporate social responsibility in our local community.