Germanna launches ambitious program aiming to give every student real-world experience
From Germanna Community College:
Many community college students work to pay their way through school and to cover living expenses. But many aren’t getting the experience they’ll need to land good jobs and thrive, confident in the knowledge they can do the work.
“Many of our students are working, but maybe not in the fields they’re training and being educated for,” says Germanna Community College President Janet Gullickson. “So our job is to create the experience for students. That isn’t about being a waitress or about being a custodial worker, although those are great jobs, but really about working in your field, be it nursing be it cybersecurity, be it engineering.
“And so with that in mind, we are announcing GermannaWorks,” Gullickson said. “GermannaWorks is not necessarily a new thing. But it is something that we have been doing that we want to ratchet up a little bit more with help from our great communities.
Dr. Tiffany Ray, Germanna Vice President for Student Services, explains: “The GermannaWorks program allows our students to get hands-on experience in the field, to learn about themselves, and to implement the skills they’ve learned in the classroom in the real-life workplace.”
It’s often called “experiential learning.”
“So when they’re graduated and in their field, they are ready to hit the ground running their first day of work,” Gullickson said.
Gullickson said everywhere she goes, employers tell her they can’t find workers with the skills they need. They tell her they increase pay and benefits and still can’t fill openings with qualified applicants.
“So this is perfect for the workforce crisis we are in right now,” Gullickson said. “As a technical college as well as a transfer institution, it is our responsibility to respond to the concerns of those employers. GermannaWorks allows us to do that.
“It will help our community by allowing people to work In the industries they want to work in, and it will help employers because students will be on the job even before they graduate,” Gullickson said.Becky Morris, GermannaWorks Internship Coordinator, said: “We have a vested interest in making sure that the students we send out from our programs, whether they’re academic or technical and trade programs, are ready to be good employees for our constituents.”
Tom Locher of Cedar Mountain Stone in Culpeper said the company had five Germanna students in its apprenticeship program last fall. “It’s a great partnership with Germanna. Students can come work for us, earn a degree, work full time, with pay and benefits and a 401k, insurance, and we pay for 100 percent of their tuition, and they have an associate’s degree and a job at the end of the process.”
Rachel Overbey of Mary Washington Health Care said it helps both students and MWHC “getting students to come in, working side by side [with MWHC personnel] and getting that experience in their career path, knowing they can do the job.”
Dr. Fafa Baker of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative said, “We’ve hired interns to work in our cybersecurity department. Any student needs to be able to receive that hands-on training—that opportunity.”
A new agreement between Germanna and Virginia Tech will help second-year transfer students from diverse backgrounds gain work experience while taking hybrid classes for a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. Students in the program get 300 hours of intern work with companies and agencies in Northern Virginia.