The Hard Work of Community College Students is Being Noticed By Businesses and Colleges


The hard work and ability to juggle many responsibilities of community college students is being noticed now more than ever by employers and colleges. It is common place for students earning a two year degree to work and have families to take care of on top of demanding class schedules.

The willingness to take on so many challenges and to power through are fast becoming desirable traits that are garnering community college students more attention when it comes time to look for a job.

Maureen Crawford Hentz, director of talent management for the global manufacturing corporation A.W. Chesterton Co, says “If you can juggle family, working, homework, school internships – I want you. It’s just as simple as that.”

Hentz goes on to say that she is more inclined to give a second look at resumes with community college listed under the applicants educational experience. She likens the comparison to that of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, who were both great dancers in their own rights with distinct characteristics of appeal. Hentz says, “Both were great dancers, but Rogers did it backwards and in heels. Community college students do it backwards and in heels.”

Being able to focus on many different tasks and be pulled in many different directions can be stressful and difficult for any student, but some students have a knack for managing under those situations. The ability to wear many hats and be many things at once can’t be taught and it is this innate ability to multitask that has companies like A.W. Chesterton interested.

In fact, A.W. Chesterton is so interested in what community college students can do that they have partnered up with Northern Essex Community College. The program developed between the two allows students at NECC majoring in advanced manufacturing to enroll in important classes which will lay the groundwork for the phase two of the program. Once students have completed courses in machining, blueprint reading and geometric dimensioning, they will then have the opportunity to shadow a seasoned employee at the company and follow that up with an internship.

The benefits of this program are two fold as the experience gained by the program is invaluable to students and the shadowing and internship length gives A.W. Chesterton an “internship long interview” as Hentz calls it.

The new program is proving to be promising for students as Hentz says the company is “very interested” in hiring on some of the students in full positions.

The partnership between A.W. Chesterton and NECC isn’t the only one out there, though. Another relationship forged is the one between the City Colleges of Chicago and Rush University Medical Center, which resulted in the hiring of 20 students last year with an additional nine students brought on as interns. JMC Steel Group also teamed up with City Colleges of Chicago and hired students on to work with the company in pipe and tube manufacturing.

Four year colleges are also interested in working with community colleges and the students that attend. The success rate of students with two year degrees under their belts is higher and they are often more prepared for the demands of undergraduate degrees and beyond.

Echoing this sentiment is the dean of enrollment management at St. Catherine University, Daniel Thompson. In an email to U.S. News & World Report, he stated “Students who begin college in community colleges tend to be very well prepared to continue and be successful on almost any four year college of campus.” Thompson also goes on to credit the quality of some of the community colleges across the country as a distinct advantage had by many students earning associate’s degrees.

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