Non-Typical Times Spur Partnership Success

In the face of a challenging year, a strong partnership emerged.

JCI’s Pre-Employment Services program, in partnership with local grocery stores, has worked diligently to ensure that eligible high school students continued to receive work-based learning opportunities during the pandemic. Work Experience is an aspect of the curriculum that presents students with the chance to gain real-world experience on the job site, with a JCI staff member to guide their development.

During this experience, students serve as unofficial staff members and work to complete tasks that will assist in their preparedness for the work environment. Grocery stores have played an integral role in the work experience program service over the past year. They have remained open during the pandemic and provided a welcoming and safe environment for JCI participants.

In Johnston County, the continued partnership with Food Lion (Wendell, Cleveland Road, McGee’s Crossroads) and Carlie C’s IGA (Smithfield) has allowed students to develop customer relation skills, as well as teamwork. Chrissy Wainwright, a receiving supervisor for Food Lion, supports the immersive program as it has assisted in relieving the demand caused by the pandemic.

“All of the students have come in and jumped into working without any knowledge of the store,” stated Chrissy. “They have been kind, professional, energetic, and a pleasure to work with.”

This experience represents an opportunity for students to learn positive workplace behavior and time to showcase their talents. The management team often offers many students who participate in on-site work experience permanent employment.

Jeremy Dorman, a Food Lion Store manager that has hired several students at the end of their work experience, was very impressed by the participants’ attitude towards work.

“I am really impressed with their work ethic and professionalism,” stated Dorman.

With so many uncertainties this past year, the outpouring of support from local grocery partners has been instrumental to the work experience program. Over 50 students have utilized the partnership to complete their work experience milestone.

Contact Jeanene McBride (jeanene.mcbride@jcindustries) for more information about participating as a student or an employer.

JCI offers the preETS Program in partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), public school systems, and local employers. PreETS aims to prepare students (with barriers to employment) for life and career after high school by providing in-person and virtual career services and work-based learning opportunities.  

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