Our high school apprenticeship program connects us to New Bedford juniors and seniors with college aspirations who want to learn more about themselves and their city. Many of these students will be the first ones in their families to go to college. They are eager to work in an environment in which they are treated like young professionals, are given the opportunity to interact with a variety of educators and experts, and, of course, get paid.
Several weeks ago we began to advertise for new applicants. Notice of the program openings went to all three high schools in the City, to the Standard-Times, to WFHN and WBSM, to NB Public Access Cable and on our blog. Current and past apprentices also spread the word. The response was very strong. Fifty seven applications were received by our deadline of September 25. Of these 57, we will only be able to hire four new apprentices. These new students will bring us to our full complement of twelve apprentices, seven of whom started in July.
This week, during the after school hours, we have been conducting interviews and will do so all week. After reading their answers to the questions on the application, checking their eligibility in relation to receiving free or reduced lunch and reviewing their transcripts, we opted to call 19 students to interview. We have been impressed with the students we have met, and have no doubt that we will be impressed with the students who will come in today and tomorrow after school.
It is no small task to choose four new apprentices from such a large pool of applicants. These students have to be team players and continue the momentum we have built in the first 3 1/2 years of the program. They need to have the aptitude to grasp all that we ask them to learn. They must be willing to commit to the hours of the job. They need to convey a sense of initiative for their futures, and that they see our program as more than just a job. We have met many students who can do all of the above. We are about to meet more in the next 30 hours. Yet, there will be four whose interviews, references, transcripts and ability to connect to our interviewers will help them rise above their peers.
This process reinforces the notion that there are countless students in New Bedford, and in the region, who don’t get noticed, or notoriety, simply because they are doing their homework, volunteering after school and on weekends and are staying out of trouble. These are the good kids, the students who deserve our appreciation for doing the ‘right thing’. We feel lucky to get the chance to meet some of them this week. We wish all of them well. We feel even luckier that four more of them will start work with us next week.