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Work-Based Learning Engages Students for Successful Futures

Andrea Escobar

December 07, 2023 — Andrea Escobar, a junior at Beechcroft High School dreams of walking through a city of buildings she created and designed. After visiting two cities known for their rich architecture, New York City and Chicago, she started considering an architect career.

“I want to be an architect,” said Escobar. “If you think about it, architecture, engineering, and construction - they’re all connected.”

Shunda Wright, career and community resource coordinator at Beechcroft provides students like Andrea with opportunities to earn internship hours required for graduation. Students can earn those hours through community service, work internships, and college and career exploration, a program called Take 10.

“I love my job,” Wright said. “I love working with students and connecting them with meaningful opportunities in careers that are interesting to them.”

Wright designed the work-based learning program to provide experiences for students to explore career pathways before they graduate.

“We’re building the next workforce,” Wright said. “The workforce of the future.”

The Take 10 program partners students with a business that specializes in their desired career path. This fall, Escobar partnered with Contractors Inc., a part of the Crane Renovation Group. This family-owned business provides renovated commercial, multi-family, and condominium properties.

Over five weeks, Escobar learned the ins and outs of the construction firm. Escobar gained experience with every step of the building process, from learning about payroll to project management. She even performed a walk-through of one of the construction sites, where she saw what her future had in store.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Escobar said. “You learn about every position, how it functions, and how it contributes as a team. It taught me that your opinion matters.” 

The openness and support of the employees at Contractors Inc. sold her on the benefits that the Take 10 program would bring. After discovering her passion for architecture, the employees of Contractor’s Inc. took it upon themselves to provide her with software programming to put her design skills to the test. Through this internship, she learned skills that continue to lead her to success in school, work, and life.

“This experience taught me more about architecture than I knew going in,” Escobar said. “I learned social skills, communication skills, and how to build relationships with clients.”

With the skills they gained from the Take 10 program, Wright hopes that students will land year-round or seasonal internships with the potential for a full-time hiring opportunity post-graduation. 

“My goal here at CCS is to educate the whole child and encompass everything that is Portrait of a Graduate,” said Wright. 

Adopted by the District, the Portrait of a Graduate prepares students for success, both now and in the future. The Portrait of a Graduate envisions every CCS student embodying adaptability, communication, creativity, critical thinking, global empathy, and technology. 

While Escobar doesn’t know if she will become the latest employee at Contractor’s Inc., she believes this experience opened doors for her future.

“I hope people hear my story and get involved,” said Escobar. “Once you get involved even in one thing, more doors open for you.”