Why Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program?
As a company, Metro Sales has always prided itself on community involvement and employee development. It’s those two beliefs that immediately drew Metro Sales towards the Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP).
The CWSP is an innovative educational initiative administered by Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program helps students develop their professional skills by partnering with local businesses and organizations to give students the chance to earn part of their education.
How does CWSP Work?
So how exactly does it work? Employers contract through CWSP to fill entry-level jobs. Four students are then assigned to the organization. Each student works one day every week and one Friday each month. Together, students work the same number of hours as one full-time employee.
According to Cristo Rey, the program is “An opportunity for students to gain business experience, build technical skills, and develop lifelong learning behaviors.” This in turn helps students “Acquire professional work skills, while building an impressive resume and learning about different careers.” In turn, these professional skills can then be put to use in a potential career down the road.
However, students aren’t the only ones who profit from the program. Employers also benefit by gaining a valuable pipeline of potential future employees to fill full-time, entry level jobs. And since employers contract directly with CWSP, they don’t need to worry about traditional paperwork such as payroll or W-4 forms.
“It just felt like such a natural fit and a great opportunity,” recalls Metro Sales President and CEO Jerry Mathwig. “The program took our organization’s passion for developing our own employees and applied it to helping Twin Cities’ youth.” And how is the program going thus far? “It’s been great,” replies Mathwig. “In fact, we’re considering extending our participation in the near future.”
So how about other staff members? How have other employees at Metro Sales been affected by the program? To answer some of these questions, we sat down with four staff members who have been heavily involved in the program at Metro Sales. The participants in our conversation are Don Wimer, General Service Manager; Heidi Myers, Accounting Manager; and Dave Anderson, Facilities Management and Document Services Manager.
Q: What has your experience with the Cristo Rey Work Study Program and its students been like thus far?
Heidi: “This program has worked well for us and our student-worker is excellent! She works hard and is very productive. The task of scanning is not very exciting and not a job that everyone wants to do; however, she continues to show up every week ready to work, completes the tasks and keeps everything up to date. She is also very versatile and can do other tasks as we need her to and does them very well.”
Don: “The student I have is helping out in the Parts Department on Tuesdays and Fridays once a month and everything has gone well so far — the school has really done an excellent job of communication.”
Dave: “I think it has been great. The student they assigned to me is excellent and hardworking.”
Q: Why do you feel this program is valuable?
Don: “I think it’s valuable because it’s a chance for Metro to help develop a solid work ethic in students and expose them to a real life work environment.”
Heidi: “I agree. This program is valuable to the students because it provides a look into the ‘real world’ of adult work life. It prepares the students for the eventual transition and shows them the types of expectations that having a job brings.”
“From Metro’s perspective, this program is a great opportunity to provide outreach to the community and afford the students a learning experience in a real work environment. In addition, it provides an outlet for repetitive tasks to be completed by students in a consistent manner and because the repetitive tasks are being completed, it allows other employees to be afforded opportunities to develop and grow in other duties as well.”
Dave: “Well, we get some additional help one day a week, which is helpful of course. Plus, the program could lead to a hiring opportunity in the future, which would be nice since both parties had a chance to get to know each other well, which should help determine if the candidate is a good fit for Metro Sales, and they in turn will have a good feel for the corporate culture of Metro Sales prior to accepting an offer of employment.”
“Having the responsibility of helping pay for part of their education is also very valuable in my opinion as it helps them take their education more seriously, helps them manage their time more carefully, and helps them understand that an education is an ‘investment’ of time and resources from many people, all to help them have a better future.”
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of the program for you personally?
Heidi: “For me, seeing the growth in the student over time has been the most rewarding. Our student-worker has learned other tasks besides just scanning and does very well with them. She has brought a sense of accomplishment and pride in the department for the success she has achieved in her role. When she graduates and starts looking for work, if Metro has an open position that she qualifies for, I would definitely recommend her to be hired.”
Dave: “For me, the most rewarding aspect is seeing that there are some great young people out there that are hard-working with good attitudes and pleasant personalities. To see that the student appreciates the opportunity and is willing to take on additional duties and hours as those things become available.”
Don: “Personally, I feel that the most rewarding aspect is being able to help out with the development of a student’s growth.”
Q: Any final or concluding thoughts?
Heidi: “This program seems to work very well for these students and I think other schools should provide the same opportunities for students as Cristo Rey does for their students. Mentorship is one of the key elements to success in anyone’s career and there needs to be more of it in my opinion.”
Don: “I think the program is a great one for the growth and development of the students and makes us feel good in the process. It’s the definition of a win-win”
If you’re curious about the Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program and how your organization can get involved, you can visit their information page here. To learn more about Metro Sales or our local involvement, check out our community involvement page.