For the last two months, the eighteen students enrolled in TDChristian’s Internship Block Program have been immersed in an exciting blend of real-world experience and in-class learning. Each student has been matched with an adult mentor in their industry of interest, and is spending two full days a week at that mentor’s workplace.
The program, run by Kevin Godber and Joel Sjaarda, is modeled after an educational movement called Big Picture Learning (BPL), where students are placed in personalized, innovative learning environments that work in tandem with their greater community.
“This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, because it gives me an understanding of the real world, and actually having a job and working in the work place,” says Kierra, a student in the program who spent the last two months interning for Fashion Magazine.
The internship appealed to Kierra for a few key reasons: She liked that it was located downtown, and that it centred on two creative outlets that have interested her since childhood: fashion and cosmetics.
“Ever since I was a little child I would design dresses,” says Kierra. “I also loved dealing with make up. I do my make up every day and like to have fun with it.”
As an intern at Fashion Magazine, Kierra was given a number of skill building tasks—like interviewing makeup artists, filing and organizing the new products that came in, and even attending a fashion show, where she had the chance to chat with the head hairdresser and makeup artist.
These are experiences that she was encouraged to share with her classmates.
“We try to do updates maybe once or twice a week,” notes Kierra. “I’ve enjoyed the community in our class—how we all have really different jobs. It’s just so interesting learning about each one of them through all the presentations that we do.”
Given the diversity of placements selected by students this year, it should come as no surprise that in-class conversation has been lively. Bethanie has been helping out with surgery preparation at North Park Veterinary Hospital in Brampton, Ashley is exploring culinary arts at Glen Eagle Golf Club in Caledon, and Matthew is exploring the business side of the music industry at Thunder Dome Sounds in Markham.
When students aren’t scattered throughout the GTA in their various workplaces, they’re engaging topics that Kierra describes as “useful to their future”—like building a good resume, for example, and learning about the ins and outs of finding a job.
“I’ve enjoyed all the work that we do” says Kierra, “ and I’ve learned that it can be really hard to get a job.
No high school course can promise to make that process an easy one, but Internship Block does provide students with a valuable starting point. The program’s emphasis on in-the-field exploration isn’t designed to pigeon hole students into a single career path, either.
With her Fashion Magazine placement ending a bit sooner than expected, Kierra will now be turning her attention towards a different industry. Recently, she approached a bakery near her house with a placement request.
Although Kierra knows what she likes, her career aspirations aren’t exactly written in stone yet. “I’m not quite sure if I want to go into fashion or baking,” she admits.
Fortunately, Kierra and her classmates can rest in the assurance that there is plenty of time to discern God’s direction for their lives. In the meantime, they have every reason to contribute with confidence, joy and creativity to the broader culture around them.