ATC co-op program helps GRC seniors find jobs

Published 10:13 am Friday, April 21, 2017

For two seniors at George Rogers Clark High School, a new coop program has unlocked opportunity for an upward-bound career.

Brett Foley and Garrett Samuels, who study at the Area Technology Center on GRC’s campus, were the first students to complete a coop program between the ATC and local manufacturer Leggett and Platt.

The students went through the same hiring process that full-time employees of the company go through.

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“I had to produce a resume and go to an interview,” Foley said. “I even brought in a letter of recommendation.”

Once hired, Foley and Samuels became part of the Leggett and Platt team, working alongside the company’s other hires doing the same work. Foley said that while the company at first limited the students to working 20 hours a week, by the end of the coop they were free to work up to 40.

As the students approached the end of their senior years at GRC, Leggett and Platt made official offers of employment to them to continue working full time immediately after graduation. Foley said he was even offered a promotion to working in the company’s shipping and handling department.

Both students have accepted the offers.

Foley said he first was interested in taking part in the program as a way to work outside of the fast food industry, but he has enjoyed the experience.

“It’s been really good,” Foley said. “A lot of friendships have been built. Everyone gets along and that’s how we get through the day. There’s no bad attitudes.”

ATC information technology instructor Robbie Barnes, Foley’s teacher, said the program has been good for the school’s students because it helps them learn soft skills that can’t be taught in a classroom, like how to show up on time for a shift and how to handle a job interview.

“I think it’s been very good for our students,” Barnes said. “It’s given them experience. It may not be in the career they’re initially looking for, but it teaches them employability skills.”

Barnes said that since the creation of the coop program two other students have also begun working at Leggett and Platt, bringing the total number for this year to four. He said there is even more interest from upcoming students for next year.

The ATC has been working with Partners in Education executive director Greg Yates to seek out more partnerships with other businesses in the area. Barnes said the school will work with any company willing to give students a chance at getting real-world experience.

Yates said he is hoping to get more companies involved in the program next year as the number of interested students increases.