Lizzy Grandon isn’t out of high school yet, but she already has a leg up on others who want to work in the burgeoning salon industry. She has a part-time internship at Otto + Grand downtown and is earning school credit at the same time.
“When I heard about this internship, I was like ‘please, please. … ’ I kind of freaked out about it,” said Lizzy, who has been known to take scissors and color to her own hair.
Most Fridays, she picks up a broom first thing, then keeps the coffee station stocked, dusts, and washes and folds towels in between shadowing stylists during her five-hour shift.
Lizzy said besides learning about the industry, the internship “is helping me figure out time management,” what it’s like to have co-workers and how to interact with the public.
“What she’s been doing has been very similar to our assistant program” for new employees, said owner Spencer Bristol, who added there is stiff competition for salon jobs. “We do a lot more interviewing than hiring.”
Drew Klopcic sees Lizzy’s internship as a perfect fit. Klopcic is dean of students at Northview Next, a new program that aims to expand career pathways and provide flexible learning options.
One Program, Two Options
Staffed with district teachers, support team members and administrators, Northview Next includes two distinct learning options: the Learning Center and the Career Center.
At the East Beltline Career Center, formerly East Campus, students participate in two years of skills-based classes Monday through Thursday. They then fan into the community on Fridays for job shadows, internships, co-ops and part-time jobs. The district partners with Jobs for Michigan Graduates Youth Solutions, which provides the curriculum for a variety of industries including mechanics, art, technology and real estate.
“It’s a really great program that (teaches) them employability skills, getting them into a career-minded curriculum. It’s very powerful,” Klopcic said.
Ru-Shiya Polson can attest to that. She was drawn to an internship at a nearby law firm because she enjoys watching television programs that involve court proceedings.
Now the aspiring prosecutor spends one day a week learning what paralegals and attorneys do at Chase Bylenga Hulst, immersed in “the whole experience of being here,” she said.
Help for a Diploma
The Learning Center is a day and evening drop-in program that operates out of two rooms of the Ross Medical Center building off Plainfield Avenue NE. It includes on-site staff who supervise online instruction, social and emotional support and job services.
The objective of the Learning Center is to help students ages 15 to 20 acquire a Northview diploma, regardless of circumstances. Students can design a schedule that accommodates work requirements, health issues or other barriers to participating in a traditional high school schedule.
“For students who have struggled in traditional settings, attendance is a bit more relaxed, they get their own laptop and they are able to do a lot of work at home, and that accommodates their work schedule and circumstances,” Klopcic said.
Emelia Brown’s family splits their time between Grand Rapids and Traverse City because of her dad’s job. She’s self-motivated, so the online portion of school isn’t a problem, she said. In fact, she’s so focused she might even graduate early, “and we’re talking with A’s and B’s,” pointed out Learning Center Manager Drew Schmidt.
“They really push getting these kids what they need,” said Emelia’s dad, Bill Brown. “It’s like we’re all on the same team.”