It’s not an internship.
It’s not a job shadowing program or career exploration event.
It is high school students doing real jobs for real companies.
It’s called Elevate, and it’s a new program developed by Craig High School staff and administrators and a Forward Janesville representative.
Qualified juniors and seniors are working with companies on what Craig Assistant Principal Shawn Kane describes as “second- or third-tier projects.”
Those are the projects businesses want to do to improve workflow, learn more about their target markets, use social media more efficiently or expand their markets. They’re projects that often start with the question, “How can we do this better?”
During this first round of Elevate, students are working with nonprofits, individual entrepreneurs and businesses.
“We have a group of students working with Downtown Janesville Inc. to help them optimize a gift card system,” Kane said.
The gift card program promotes local businesses. Downtown Janesville Inc. has a system in place that works, but it wants to streamline it and get more people to use it.
“There’s a business aspect to it, there’s a logistics aspect to it and there’s a marketing aspect to it,” Kane said.
Another group of students is working with a small-business owner to find ways to grow her business, capture more of the market and use social media more effectively.
Elevate has little in common with high school internships, which are more about job shadowing and finding out what it takes to succeed in that profession, Kane said.
“They’re (the interns) using their knowledge or insight to solve a problem for the company,” Kane said. “In Elevate, they’re immersed in the organization. They work with point people at the business; they solve the problems; they have deliverables that are defined for them.”
The students work under their high school teachers and are guided by businesspeople and a network of mentors.
The projects run for eight to 10 weeks. Kane is already looking for business and nonprofit partners for second semester projects.
“These are projects that companies haven’t had the time, they haven’t had the personnel or they haven’t had the opportunity to dig into something, but they know it would benefit their organization,” he said. “They’ll find that students can really come up with some innovative ideas.”
In a news release, Kane outlined projects that his students would be especially equipped to solve. They include business plan development, marketing analysis, price strategy development, market research, brand development, event planning and management, social media strategy development and product selling, and donation solicitation.