Partner Perspectives on Workplace Learning and the Role of Launch Now
At Launch Now, we are passionate about connection, and we mean that in a multitude of ways—from linking students’ interests with opportunities to introducing schools to community partners. We are grateful to the collaborators who make these connections possible, and we look forward to serving them and many others as our platform grows. In this three-part series, we highlight a few of those individuals and organizations who understand the value of workplace learning and who have been supporting our mission since the beginning.
Resolving the disconnect between interests and opportunitie
Melorah Bisaillon is a school counselor at Epping Middle and High School with more than 20 years of experience working with students. And she is well aware of the disconnect between students who are interested in exploring opportunities within the community and businesses who are likewise interested in linking with youth.
“Despite interest on both sides, there simply was no way to bridge that gap without knocking on doors myself,” she explains. Melorah has played a role in the creation of the Launch Now platform and continues to be an important part of the conversation. “It was clear that a tool was needed to facilitate those connections.”
Melorah shared the story of a student who was interested in becoming an architect.
She really wanted to do an internship, or job shadow for a week. So, my response to that was to Google architects in the area. Then I had to cold call. While in some schools there are counselors who are entirely dedicated to extended learning, in my role this is just one of many responsibilities. Launch Now can significantly minimize the time spent searching for willing individuals and partners.”
Melorah is clear that Launch Now is not intended to replace the one-to-one conversations she has with students about their interests or learning plans. The platform can, however, reduce her administrative burden as well as provide students with helpful interest profiles and the ability to preview the opportunities available in the community.
“Once a student has completed their interest profile, we will have a discussion so I can answer their questions, talk to the potential employer, and help craft a plan, such as a month-long internship three days a week after school, etc. From there, I can literally click the button to put the student and the employer in direct communication.”
Because students can earn credits for their work, Melorah will continue to oversee their progress and monitor the engagement overall, to ensure that it continues to be a good fit and that students meet their milestones.
Melorah is passionate about the value these workplace learning opportunities can provide, both to students and to community partners. “It’s important for kids to discover what they like and don’t like before paying thousands of dollars on a degree,” she says.
“What is also so gratifying for us and for students is the real-world applicability of what they are learning in the classroom. They may have never understood before why or when they would need algebra, for example, and then suddenly it clicks for them. When students experience something that sparks an interest in them, it adds real life value to what they do here in school and gives their academic life more meaning. It also gives them a window into life after their diploma, too. If sitting in class and doing homework is not their thing, now they see a purpose.”
For employers, there are also many benefits to these engagements, none the least of which is gaining insight into their future workforce, explains Melorah. “They may not regularly be speaking to 16- and 17-year-olds, and it’s so valuable to see what they are like and hear what they are thinking about.”
Melorah greatly appreciates the Launch Now vision and believes it can resolve a disconnect she has seen for many years. “This is one way we can help students get more from this time in their life and be more successful in the future.”