MSSD Seniors Try Out Life in the Workforce
Each Friday during the semester, Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) seniors head out to their assigned off-campus worksites. The school has built up an excellent relationship over the past 15 years with government agencies, nonprofits, and small businesses that sponsor MSSD interns. The Library of Congress holds the record for the longest run of interns; it has hosted students consecutively for 11 years and has a group of deaf employees who have given support to the students at meet-and-greet lunches.
Students experience all aspects of their jobs: arranging transportation, figuring out the dress code, learning their assignments, finding the best ways to communicate with coworkers and supervisors, balancing time and task management, and testing out if they might want to work in that line of work in the future. During their internships they may ask themselves, "Would this kind of work be a great summer job or would it be something to pursue as a future career?"
Each of the students prepares a resume to share with his or her employer. The host site evaluates the student mid-way through his or her internship and at the end. During his or her internship, the student keeps a journal and responds to set questions about his or her experience. He or she is also required to map out an organizational chart, including where his or her position belongs.
"The organizational chart helps students understand who are the key players," said Allen Talbert, MSSD work experience specialist. "That way when the vice-president stops by an intern’s desk, he or she will know who their boss’s boss is! Students learn that the organizational chart shows how a business or organization is structured."
The internship experience becomes a central part of the student's professional portfolio (including sample resume, career interests, letters of introduction, letters of recommendation, worksite journal, etc.). At the end of the semester, each student presents his or her portfolio in a formal presentation before teachers, staff, and administrators.
Look for stories next month on the MSSD website with highlights from MSSD students' workplace experiences.