Imagine a student who will be graduating in a few months and has no idea as to what the future holds with respect to a career or profession.
The Center for Advanced Professional Studies is a nationally-recognized, innovative program aimed at giving those students experience that will help shape their future, according to Sarah deVries, computer science and CAPS instructor at Boyden-Hull High School.
DeVries’ students are a part of Siouxland CAPS, which means within the larger group, her students will participate in shared events throughout the semester with other are programs, expanding their network.
CAPS connects education and the community in a project-based format that immerses students in a professional setting. Ultimately, the goal of CAPS is to prepare the students for the world of work as a result of this experience.
It is not targeted toward a particular group of students, and uniquely prepares students to problem solve, be critical thinkers, be good communicators and be innovators.
Some might think that this is a program exclusively for students aiming for highly-skilled occupations, but deVries said that is not the case.
“We encourage all students to take on the opportunities that CAPS will provide,” she said. “As a senior they can enroll in CAPS in either semester, and it will help prepare them for what they have planned following graduation.”
CAPS will provide the opportunity to explore different career fields and industries through career discoveries with local businesses.
Through CAPS, one of the major focuses is students’ communication skills. Through local businesses, they will be making phone calls, setting up and running meetings, and sending professional e-mail to business clients. This is just one example of a critical skill set that is viewed as foundational to springboarding students to success.
Participation will take up two class periods out of the student’s day and requires a commitment from everyone involved — the student, mentoring members of the business community and school staff. The 10 enrollees will meet at Farmers Mutual Insurance in Hull where students will be placed in groups based on their personality and skill set.
Students will participate in an onboarding process at the beginning of the semester, which includes behavior self-assessment and numerous professional training exercises that will prepare students for their business partnerships. The assessment shows strengths and weaknesses and reveals whether the students are task-oriented versus people-oriented. DeVries said this helps students understand how to work as a team and appreciate the art of collaboration.
At semester’s end, all Siouxland CAPS students will display their projects done in cooperation with business partners at the Innovation Showcase at a location yet to be determined.