Students working summer jobs at school are earning both experience and a paycheck

Maintenance, technology and construction
Posted at 12:00 PM, Jul 16, 2016

Students in school districts around Cincinnati are spending their summer at school, but they won’t be getting any class credit for their time.

Instead of catching up or working ahead in their studies, the students will be earning paychecks and job experience.

In Mason City Schools, students typically are hired to help with basic maintenance duties, but the district’s move toward a 1-to-1 initiative opened up opportunities for technology work this summer.

“This is the first year that we’ve used students for technology, and it’s been terrific,” said Tracey Carson, public information officer for Mason City Schools.

Since the beginning of June, a group of eight high school upperclassmen have spent their weekdays working as paid interns, helping prepare technology for the coming school year. They’ve provided their services throughout the district, but their efforts were particularly concentrated at Mason Middle School, where every student this fall will be equipped with a Google Chromebook.

To prepare for the school year, the interns inventoried technology, loaded devices with applications and ensured they were hooked into the district’s network.

“We all understand that we learn something better when we’re doing it, and so this is that hands-on application of learning,” Carson said.

The learning began before the students started their assigned duties, with an application and interview process leading up to the internships. Over the summer, they’ve continued to build their work experience, developing their skills with technology and learning how to work as part of a team.

“It’s giving them really that kind of experience that they can then parlay into something deeper,” Carson said.

Like Mason, Forest Hills School District regularly hires student employees to assist with maintenance in the summer months.

Student workers, who must be at least 14 years old and have a work permit, go through an application and hiring process in the spring. Those who are hired typically work 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, performing duties like cutting grass, painting, moving furniture and assisting adult maintenance workers.

While the district has employed students for at least 20 years, Forest Hills has a larger youth workforce than usual this summer. With construction taking place at nearly every school in the district, about two dozen students were hired this year, in contrast with the typical eight to 10, said Forest Hills Director of Operations Ray Johnson.

The work provides a paycheck, but also gives kids insight into hiring processes and what goes into maintaining their school buildings and grounds.

Students also learn what it’s like to have co-workers and how to connect with each other through that shared experience, Johnson said.

“They have an opportunity to interact with other students in a level that’s a little bit different than if you’re on the same baseball team or in marching band together,” he said.

Some may even enjoy the experience enough to make it a career path, as evidenced by former Forest Hills students who now work as members of the district’s custodial staff.

For those who don’t like performing manual labor, like moving furniture, or working outside in the summer heat, the experience may even provide motivation to do well in school in pursuit of a different type of work, Johnson said.

Regardless of how the experience impacts their future career paths, it helps prepare them by teaching them what it’s like to have a job.

“It’s beginning to give them some idea of what the workforce is going to be like,” Johnson said.