Prototype for Integrating Professional Training Into Education
Problem (from Empathy Map)
Students need a way to learn “soft” skills before
they enter the workforce, because too many are
held back by a lack of knowledge of and ability to
work in a professional environment.
Definition: Soft Skills
“Soft Skills” refer to a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social
graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with.
Companies value soft skills because research suggests and experience shows
that they can be just as important an indicator of job performance as hard skills.
Solution (from Ideate)
Create more linear relations with schools for all
professions and trades. Just like doctors and nurses
have training that gets them on the job and into
their profession while they are being trained - do
this for everything (including skilled trades and
service work like elder care).
“Soft Skills 101”
Students interview and or shadow at least 5
Students begin working on “Soft Skills”, then
shadow 2 places or divisions
Students begin first internships, working with councilors as
they go through the first steps of the job. As they prepare
to apply for college, they make decisions based on their
experiences on the job and in classes during their first 3
years of High School
Students continue with internships, working with councilors
as they make initial career decisions and college choices.
“Small” internships that do not interfere with the student’s
transition from high school to college.
The internships become more integrated with coursework.
College - Undergraduate
The concept of semester projects integrate
research into the work experience
Students work with councilors to evaluate whether or not
they need more training (graduate, professional) or if
they are ready for the work world.
College - Undergraduate
internship programs at one
of the largest hospital/
biomedical complexes in
the country. She works with
placing students in health
care internships, business
internships, and research
She works with high school
and community college
Internship Coordinator for Major Hospital
image: Corbis Royalty-Free
Tester Response: What Worked Well?
Plus: Engages Students Early
This program gives students real experience with which to make important life
Plus: Builds Realistically
The program builds up in student responsibility and engagement on the job in a
realistic way. Students are not expected to take anything on too soon. Businesses
are not being asked to take on students too soon.
Plus: Has Counseling integrated
With mandatory counseling interspersed throughout the program, students are
being advised and issues are being caught before they become problems.
Plus: Allows for movement from field to field,
particularly in high school.
Plus: Builds in immediate understanding of
where their education is taking them
Rita is particularly interested in helping students from less privileged
backgrounds. Often, the students who need education the most see little or no
value in their education. This will help show them why they are studying and why
they are in school.
Tester Response: What could be improved?
Issue: Too Big
There are too many varied fields and avenues of training to rewrite everything at
once. “Rita” recommended I scale down and concentrate on disciplines that have
some infrastructure in place.
Take Away: Scale Down For Initial Prototype
I’ve chosen to scale down to STEM programs.
Issue: Show How Program Meets Standards
State and National Standards for high school students and Accreditation
Standards for college need to be integrated into the program
Take Away: Show Details of Standards
Write out “Soft Skills” in relation to core standards of programs
Issue: Finding Businesses
Many businesses are not set up to integrate students into their work day. Initially
the program will cost money as businesses change to integrate these programs.
How do we answer this?
Take Away: Need More Research
This is a knotty problem, and maybe my solution is too complex. I need to look
into this issue in particular.
Tester Response: Questions?
?: How will this be paid for?
?: Who will administer this from school side?
?: Who will administer this from business side?
?: Will the program be selective or universal?
?: What are the consequences if the student
does not meet the needs of business?
What if a student is late, screws up on the job, etc, what happens?
?: What are the consequences if the business
takes advantage of the student?
If the business just uses the student for non-internship responsibilities (say,
cleaning the bathrooms in a law office, instead of working with the lawyers),
Tester Response: Any New Ideas?
Idea: Narrow Initial Focus
Rita suggested focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
schools and programs. These fields have some of this infrastructure already built,
and could be much more easily expanded to embrace such a program, than say
Finance or traditional Business
Idea: Put The Two Prototypes Together
When I showed the ideas to Rita, she thought they were two aspects of the same
program. When I told her that I had envisioned them separately, she thought
they should just be one big program that covers a student’s entire journey
Idea: Include Earlier Grades As Well
Rita believes these connections can begin in primary school. She is also an
advocate of the notion of “K—16 Education”
Idea: Include Regular Soft Skills Classes
The program could include workshops and regular check-ins on “soft skills”
specifically. Problems could be caught in the very early stages.
Idea: Integrate Peer Mentoring
My brainstorm for Ideate did include peer mentoring. I’ll utilize the idea of older
students aiding younger ones throughout the program.
Prototype Career Development Step by Step:
STEM Programs Grades 7—16
Definition: STEM Program
STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM programs are majors
and departments (college), STEM middle and high schools that focus on this
training, and STEM departments within larger middle and high schools.
Definition: Grade 7—16
In the United States, Primary and Secondary Schools are often referred to
as “K—12”, meaning grades Kindergarten through 12. Students usually begin
Kindergarten at age 5 and complete grade 12 at age 17. Some educators have
been referring to “grades k—16”, meaning creating a continuous experience that
threads primary, secondary and college curriculum together.