De La Salle North students develop job skills
Their peers are enjoying the break from school by hanging out with friends, riding bikes, watching movies, and playing video games. But the incoming freshmen at north Portland’s De La Salle North Catholic High School are putting on ties, donning business attire, and coming to school in the middle of summer for “business boot camp.”
At De La Salle North, a school that serves a very diverse population of low-income students in north Portland with a college preparatory education, students need to be ready to go to class and to work on the first day of school.
As Matt Powell, president of De La Salle North and a founder of the school, says, “These 14-year old students are making the deliberate choice to do a radical thing—give up part of their summer to prepare for their future.”
In addition to the rigorous curriculum, each student at De La Salle North works one day a week off-campus at a corporate job site as part of a Corporate Internship Program. During two weeks in July and August, community volunteers, representatives from local businesses, and De La Salle North staff members conduct a training session, or “business boot camp,” to help get the student body ready for their new jobs.
Students take classes on office skills (data entry, computer skills, reception, filing, and office machines), ethics, confidentiality, organization, initiative, positive attitude, dress code, etiquette, and conversation with adults.
They also participate in mock job interviews. With classes and feedback processes to help them integrate new knowledge, students are armed with the initial information they need to be successful and contributing employees in their new workplaces.
Jim Trolinger, owner and president of Portland Valve and Fitting, a board member at De La Salle North, and an employer in the program, says, “As a result of this training, when students come to our office in the fall, they are not intimidated; they are prepared, ready to work and able to be productive in our business right from the beginning.”
This successful program has been ongoing in the Portland Metro area for 12 years, with placements from downtown Portland to Wilsonville and Hillsboro to Tigard. It has grown considerably in both revenue and number of sponsors for the past three years. The employers list, over 80 strong, includes Columbia Sportswear, Nike, OHSU, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, OnPoint Community Credit Union, PCC Structurals, Portland Valve & Fitting Co., Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, and The Standard.
It’s a win–win relationship. Students prepare for college and success in future careers; employers reap the benefits of increased workplace diversity, motivated student employees, mentorship, and community development.
De La Salle North Catholic High School prepares young men and women for college by providing a rigorous faith-based education emphasizing math, science, and language arts.
The school is racially, spiritually, and culturally diverse. More than 95 percent of its graduating seniors earn acceptance to college each year, and graduate from college at a rate four times that of their peers from a similar demographic.