WHS Career Exploration Opportunities (CEO) Program
Partnerships with local businesses allow students to explore their passions in real-world settings
Shannon Hauswald, Coordinator
(402) 443-4332 ext. 3227
"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." --Chinese Proverb
The Career Exploration Opportunities (CEOs) program assists Wahoo High School students with understanding the linkages between school and work. Through CEOs, students explore and discover their passions, confidence, and skills through a worksite experience in a career cluster of interest. Students are given the opportunity to enhance what they have learned in the classroom in a real-world environment; our community becomes an extension of their education.
The CEOs partnership between education and business provides a student the opportunity to learn firsthand, about the skill and educational requirements necessary for career areas in which they are interested. This, in turn, allows students to play an integral part in determining what they need to do after high school to reach their career objective. Through this partnership, educators and employers realize the importance of providing relevant learning experiences and share the critical task of helping students develop self-direction and decision-making skills.
Eligible students must be seniors who are enrolled full-time and in good standing. Program participation is limited at the discretion of the administration based upon their application, recommendations, interviews, and parent/guardian consent.
Some of the defining characteristics of the CEOs program are fundamental to work-based learning, such as:
- A close relationship between students’ classroom instruction and their workplace experience. The CEOs Program provides a hands-on, realistic, way to explore career options and determine the academic, technical and career readiness skills that need to be obtained through future academic or vocational studies.
- Offering quality workplace experiences for students. At its core, it is about meeting students where they are in their development and helping them grow their future. Quality workplace experiences begin by helping develop a broad understanding and awareness of businesses and industries and the possible careers that are available to them with the right set of skills and knowledge.
- Non-traditional scheduling that demonstrates a willingness to make systemic change. The CEOs program is very flexible, and can be delivered through a variety of scheduling options that work for both the business and the student. Typically, the student participates during the summer prior to graduation or one full semester during the fall or spring of their senior academic year. Days and times are to be determined in order to best meet the needs of the student and business schedules.
- Joint business-educator development of program. The program coordinator and the business mentor work together to refine a training plan that outlines the areas of study that the student-learner will rotate through during the non-paid internship program. The business mentors serve as positive role models who help instill and reinforce the importance of soft skills to a successful career. Many of these outcomes cannot be effectively learned in a traditional classroom setting.
- Emotional Intelligence: social skills, self-management, integrity, initiative, attitude, adaptability, time management, patience, confidence, productivity
- Communication Skills: written and verbal
- Interpersonal Skills: teamwork, collaboration skills, conflict resolution, networking
- Critical Observation and Research
- Workplace Culture, Work Ethic, and Professionalism
- Confidentiality, Privacy, and Respect
In terms of both today's workload and tomorrow's workforce, being part of an internship program is an excellent way to facilitate success for local businesses. There are many benefits of the CEOs program to area businesses, such as:
- Increasing their visibility in the community. Area businesses rely on community support. Being a part of the CEOs program is an excellent way to give back. Being willing to host student-learners, not only helps the students get started; it enhances the local workforce as a whole.
- Increasing their impact on the future of their industry. Students often bring with them novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets. The CEOs program allows the school and business to work together to educate and train the next generation to meet the industry needs and fill the skills gaps found in many local companies.
- Providing an opportunity to evaluate a potential employee before hiring. An intern is the most cost-effective way to evaluate someone’s potential as a full-time employee. When you host student-learners via a semester or summer internship, you benefit from added manpower, while more accurately assessing candidates for future employment possibilities.
- Increasing awareness of entry-level positions. Many companies struggle to hire entry-level positions and there are high school graduates who are seeking employment right after graduation either to save money towards further education or to go straight into the workforce. Many residents, including high school students, are unaware of the immense opportunities available to them right here in our community.
- Increasing productivity due to the addition of a student-learner. Hosting an intern and providing them with hands-on tasks allows employees to focus their time and experienced talents on more complicated tasks where higher-level training or expertise is necessary. Companies gain an extra set of hands to accomplish the same workload at no additional cost.
Our current programs include partnerships with the following local businesses in these areas of study:
- JEO Consulting Group, Inc. - Business, Marketing, & Management
- JEO Consulting Group, Inc. - Skilled & Technical Services
- Saunders Medical Center - Health Services
- Lower Platte North Natural Resources District - Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
- Wahoo Newspaper - Communication & Information Systems
- Sid Dillon Chevrolet Buick Wahoo - Skilled & Technical Sciences
- Wahoo Public Schools - Human Services & Education
- Wahoo Pharmacy - Health Services
- Found & Flora - Small Business Management
- Found & Flora - Skilled & Technical Sciences
- Platte Valley Equipment - Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
- City of Wahoo Utility Department - Public Administration
Students apply for the CEOs Program they are interested in and go through a selection process. After completing an application, obtaining two recommendations, and writing a paragraph of interest, they will interview with either a team of administrators or directly with representatives from the business.
One student is selected per semester per business location, unless other arrangements are made. Our students spend a minimum of 4 hours each week during the semester learning about multiple departments and getting experiences beyond a classroom setting. The business site representatives give the students a performance evaluation mid-term and at the end of the semester. Upon completion of the program, the students present their capstone project describing their experience, sharing photos, and answering questions.
Since the CEOs Program began in the Summer of 2017, the feedback has been remarkable! We started with five students at two businesses and have grown to include ten area businesses, and are continuing to expand. Students are making network connections, learning more about career fields they are interested in, and sharing their excitement with others. Business leaders are seeking a partnership with us and anxious to be a part of this growing program. Parents and students from not only Wahoo High School, but also other area schools, are reaching out and wanting more information about this internship experience and how they can be involved.
We are very proud of the development and implementation of the Career Exploration Opportunities Program at Wahoo High School and look forward to seeing the growth in the years to come! If you would like to partner with us for a work-based learning experience, we would love to connect with you!