Shaping students through apprenticeships

Students are now able to receive even more hands-on job experience thanks to the Belton Apprenticeship Program. The program began in January 2012 and has been off to a good start.

Since the program is fairly new, the team is still learning what works for the students and what they can do better next time.

Programs Director for the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce Mark Arrazola said the apprenticeship is for one semester.

“The length could expand in the future. With this being the first class, there is still plenty to review and discuss to help build and develop the program more,” Arrazola said.

“The primary objective of  program activities is for the mentor to guide the student on career development, help them make contacts and networks in Belton and beyond and offer workplace and community awareness.”

The program first began with an idea from Billy Moyer of SOS leadership institute.

Arrazola said, “He  had developed Apprentice Austin and told us about it….We knew instantly that we had to do a similar program for our area. After a few meetings with Billy and UMHB, the program was              developed.”

For those interested in entering the program, the process is simple.

Arrazola said, “Students pick up applications from the Career Services Office on campus, fill it out and return it. The applications are then taken to the chamber for review after the deadline, and the class is selected.”

Some participants may wonder if they already have internships, what the difference is between internships and apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships offer the students more insight and the ability to get one on one with a person in the field they want to go into. The apprentice sets the terms of what they want to get out of the mentoring relationship and are able to have more say in what they will want to do in the program,” Arrazola said. “In an internship, the intern is given a set of tasks to do and may not get to ever be one on one with someone who could really give them insights and pointers about their future career. An internship also may not offer up the opportunity to build one’s network in the business area.”

The program has a diverse mixture of people from different career paths.

Executive Director, soon to be Director of Patient Services  at Body of Christ Clinic Carolyn Insall, was approached by officials of the Belton Chamber of Commerce. They asked if she would be willing to mentor a UMHB student who was interested in starting a free women’s clinic.

She said, “We see medical and dental services for the uninsured and under insured people living in the Greater Belton and Salado area. We ask the patients for minimal donations based on their income… usually $5, $10, and $15. We see both chronic and acute medical patients, do cleaning, fillings and extractions for dental patients.

Her apprentice junior cell biology major Stephanie Jones made regular visits to the clinic Thursday evenings.

Insall said, “She rotated through the social work area, laboratory, pharmacy and nursing/patient care. She shadowed medical providers and visited a women’s center who saw OB patients.”

Jones has learned a lot from her mentor.

She said, “Mrs. Insall has really encouraged me to pursue med school. Before my mentor program, I really doubted myself…. She told me not to sell myself short and that was one thing…”

“By meeting at the Body of Christ Clinic with Mrs. Insall, I have seen how much work the volunteers, doctors, nurses and staff put into the clinic,” Jones said.

“Some nights I would go and be like…, I really wish  I could be helping these people right alongside with them instead of just watching.”


Author: Bells Staff

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