Students at Roseville High School, pictured, can take part in the district’s co-op program, which gives students credit for getting jobs at participating local businesses.

Students at Roseville High School, pictured, can take part in the district’s co-op program, which gives students credit for getting jobs at participating local businesses.

Photo provided by Joe Genest

Roseville High co-op program gives students real-world experience

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 18, 2020


ROSEVILLE — Roseville Community Schools is hoping to get some of its high school students out into the real world and learning while earning some money through its co-op business program.

The program allows high school juniors and seniors to get jobs at participating local businesses while earning credit for those jobs.

“If they have co-op, they report during sixth hour and they go out and get real life experience,” explained Roseville High School Principal Patrick Adams. “Some of it starts them in a career, and some it’s just a matter of making them go, ‘I want a degree so I don’t have to do this the rest of my life.’”

Students have to work at least an average of 10 hours a week to receive credit; they earn a paycheck as any other employee would, and they are usually allowed to stay on if they and their employer decide that they can.

“The co-op program is more familiar with people from 40 years ago. Kids would have jobs with people helping out within the building or central office. It was a successful way to train them,” said Adams. “This is more focused on having jobs at a law firm, a shop or a fast food restaurant where they average at least 10 hours a week working. They fill out paperwork to prove they are meeting state guidelines.”

Bill Mangold, the general manager at the Roseville Dairy Queen on Gratiot Avenue is living proof that the program can be a success, since he started working at the Dairy Queen as a co-op student.

“I was actually a member of the program back in high school. I was an employee back in 1994 and 1995. I’ve really gone full circle,” he said. “Most of those who join as part of the program stay on. I’m still here 28 years later. I have a manager who’s been here for 18 years. Most only stay on for a couple of years as they go to college and move on, but it’s been a very positive process for me.”

“We have about 50 students in the program right now. They sign up for this program the same way we do like a class. We monitor them and meet with the businesses throughout the year to make sure they are meeting the requirements,” said Adams. “They earn credit for taking part the same way as they would in a normal class. There are different kinds of this sort of program, but the kids do earn pay from the businesses they work for. Some of them stay at the businesses they are placed in through the program.”

Adams said the district tries to work with local businesses so that the school is helping the community and the businesses can then help the students.

“I try to promote the program through advertising and on social media to recruit businesses,” he said. “We work with the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce. Businesses come to us and we approach them and set up these relationships so we can get kids into these entry level jobs.”

The program gives students the opportunity to learn valuable lessons that they will benefit from for their entire lives.

“They get real-world experience in customer service, problem-solving and even everyday math. It sounds crazy, but it’s a skill everyone needs to learn,” said Mangold. “I think having them get that experience of having a job is good. It teaches them responsibility and shows them how to deal with people of different ages or walks of life or economic backgrounds. These are skills people will need for the rest of their life.”

“It shows kids what career paths are out there and shows them what it is like to actually like to have a job,” added Adams. “We want to build a community where kids can check out different businesses, and usually we would have a career fair sort of event for them to see different options, but COVID kind of put that on hold.”

Mangold believes that for some students, a real job can be the best thing possible to help them plan their lives.

“There are students who may not do well in classes or have trouble taking tests, but they prove to be the best people on a job because they’re hard workers and good at interacting with people,” he said. “It helps them in school sometimes too, because it allows them to learn how to work with others and learn in different ways.”