Giving Dublin students employment experience
The Dublin community and Microsoft sought to build a stronger, more resilient community and recognized the need to provide students with skills and attributes to prepare them for future opportunities. In particular, preparing students for continuing education and higher-skilled work will reap benefits for the students, the school, and the community.
Developing a student-driven accountability plan
For the 2017–2018 school year, Collinstown Park Community College in Dublin received an award from the Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund. This contribution helped establish the Microsoft employment experience awards at Collinstown Park Community College to teach the importance of good work habits and give exposure to work culture to disadvantaged students. The ultimate goal is for the students to gain employment and improve the percentage of students that go on to higher education. The awards program has students keep track of five important attributes (attendance, punctuality, uniform, homework, and behavior) through a self-reported scorecard. Based on the results, participants judge themselves and then each other, receiving a certificate and award from the local business community, such as a pizza or gift certificate. The program allows students to demonstrate work skills in an academic context and also helps with establishing self-esteem and a feeling of belonging in the community.
Collaborating with businesses to encourage youth
Small local business owners that ordinarily do not have direct experience with students are bringing them in from the community for on-the-job training. Funding for this project goes to local businesses to cover the cost of awards. These students, often part of less advantaged groups, gain confidence through work experience and the award program. By providing the awards, business owners also create positive relationships with students in their community.
Students are actively engaged in designing this award program as part of the project, as students assess themselves (and are allowed no sick days). The students keep track of their own time and how they achieve their goals—and then students vote on each other, with the teacher checking accuracy, and an award then being presented. This promotes self-accountability as a leadership skill. This student-led project increases self-esteem to prepare them to become skilled workers and drives support for small businesses.
The employment experience awards program was again sponsored by Microsoft for the 2018–2019 school year. An additional program, the Good Citizenship Award, was offered to students based on good citizenship within both school and the community. Collectively the programs are titled “The Microsoft Awards” and are presented by a Microsoft employee. Microsoft team members were engaged to join the judging panel for these honors.