Early Experience


Two area high school students are gaining work experience and learning more about how to get into college as they work this summer in MCLA's Office of Admission through a program of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, Inc., "Jobs 4 Youth."

This Berkshire County Youth Summer Jobs Campaign connects youth and employers through one-the-job training. Currently, the nationwide teen employment rate is at a historic low of 49 percent. Only one out of six high school students held a job in 2010, and four million youth are in today's workforce, as compared to 10 years ago.

"The purpose of the youth summer job campaign is to provide a high school student with the opportunity for summer employment, and, at the same time, to help them find employments in fields they might want to do in the future and to start networking," said Josh Mendel, associate director of admissions.

Jordanne Wotkowicz and Nate Gutmann, both of Adams, are seniors and honors students at McCann Technical School, where they study Office Technology.

At MCLA, they help with daily administrative office duties and provide support to the admissions counselor staff. This includes updating Web sites and work on other technology-related projects that are part of MCLA's student recruiting efforts.

"At the same time, we're responsible for making sure they learn about professionalism in the office space and for helping them with their college search and learning insights about the college search process," Mendel said.

To help them with their own college searches, the students also will attend workshops conducted by Admissions staff. And, they will accompany staff to college fairs and other recruiting events so they can meet admissions professionals from other colleges.

Wotkowicz plans to become a physician's assistant, while Gutmann is interested in a career in athletic training or physical therapy.

Gutmann said he decided to apply for a summer job through the program because he wanted to put his skills to work in a real world setting.

"I've waited three years to finally come out in the real world and find work like this, and to just be around friendly people in the office. It's been a good learning experience," he said.

Another benefit of the job is learning how to apply for college, Wotkowicz said.

"We've learned a lot of tips about what college admissions do and how to get accepted into colleges. It's learning the inside scoop about admissions," she explained. "It definitely looks good on our college and general resumes, too."

According to Sharron Zavattaro, MCLA's director of career services and study abroad programs, who also sits on the board of directors for the regional employment board, by the end of the program, the high school students will have completed a draft of their college application essay, completed a college resume and activities list, have a working knowledge of interview skills and questions, and will enjoy a more narrow approach with college selection as they begin their search this fall.

In addition to MCLA, other Jobs 4 Youth employers include the Berkshire Medical Center, the Gladys Allen Brigham Center, Dalton Community Recreation Association and Berkshire Community College.