Tonawanda News


October 3, 2013

KEPPELER: Learning on the 'job'


Tonawanda News — I learned how to deal with people would didn’t like the paper, and extended that dislike to me. I learned how to pretend I wasn’t shy, and talk to just about anyone. I learned how to fill a section (lifestyles, in my case) from the work of a motley group of volunteers. I learned to find ideas just about anywhere. I learned how to take criticism when all that (purely volunteer) work still resulted in harsh words at the weekly critique session after the paper hit the stands.

I learned to love coffee. Oh, how I learned to love coffee.

In other words, I learned about what I’d actually need to walk away from college graduation and into a newsroom not long after, and be able to hit the ground running.

I’ve written before that I’d like to see more practical training opportunities in our education system, and more support for the ones we already have. And this is why.

That doesn’t mean we skimp on the classroom learning. (Heaven knows you still need all the background.) But if students had a chance to have this sort of experience at an earlier level, how much more prepared would they be to hit college or the workforce? And just maybe they’d know for sure that they wanted to get into a certain field before ponying up the obscene amounts of money that go into a college degree these days.

It’s happening now. At North Tonawanda High School last week, I spoke to students of the Academy of Engineering and Architecture who just completed summer internships at a local company, getting a feel for what their future holds and what it’s like to turn what they’re learning now into a living.

Some of them came away from the experience positive they were choosing the right path. Some decided it wasn’t for them. But now, after all, is the time to make that decision. 

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