WSU Tech's Job-First Enrollment Program: Earn & Learn

Posted July 12, 2022

By Megan Feeney, Director of Industry & Workforce Collaboration with the Shocker Career Accelerator

When envisioning a career path, most of us imagine something like this:

  1. Graduate from high school or obtain GED
  2. Attend college
  3. Graduate with Certificate or Degree
  4. Apply for jobs or attend career fairs
  5. Accept a position

We’ve traditionally considered jobs to be the end of the line, a goal to reach after years of schooling. But what if we flipped that model on its head?

At WSU Tech, we’re doing just that with a new, innovative initiative that flips the traditional model: Job-First Enrollment. Here’s what the path to success looks like for our students:

  1. Express interest in employment
  2. Get paired with an employer
  3. If hired, enroll in the corresponding training courses
  4. Work for the employer while attending WSU Tech for training
  5. Earn & Learn in the ‘Flow of Work’
  6. Graduate from WSU Tech and continue working for the employer

Instead of waiting until the end of school to get a job, which may or may not pertain to your education, this program tailors your training to the specific skills needed for a position. This focus on applied learning encourages an “Earn & Learn” experience where students start working — and getting paid — at the same time they take classes.

Those going through the program, which comes complete with job benefits and associated perks while participants take classes, can have a full-time job right after graduation. Plus, the employer, scholarships or federal aid can cover part or all the cost of classes through WSU Tech.

Since participants will be getting trained to do a job, students are recruited for their aptitude, not their education level. Employers know that graduates of the program will be well prepared, so they can choose applicants who fit the culture and personality of their business.

Current program examples include an aviation maintenance technology job with NIAR WERX and an accounting apprenticeship with Koch Industries.

We get a lot of questions about how Job-First Enrollment works and what students can do to get started. Here are some answers to FAQs.

What does a typical Job-First Enrollment program look like?

There’s no one-size-fits-all!

If you’re selected to participate, your employer will determine how many hours you’ll be in the workplace and how many hours you’ll spend at WSU Tech taking classes. So, the timeline of completing the training at WSU Tech and transitioning to being a regular employee will vary. 

Depending on the specific job and associated curriculum, those who complete the program will have earned a technical certificate, an associate degree or be on track to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Who would be a good fit for the Job-First Enrollment program?

Anyone wanting to start a fulfilling career, including:

  • Recent high school graduates
  • Adults eager to switch careers
  • Current students at WSU Tech or other educational programs

What does the Job-First Enrollment program application process look like?

You’ll tell us what your interests are and a little about your background. There’s no need to have a specific position in mind! Then, we’ll see if there’s an employer who would be a good fit for you. If there’s a match between your interests and employer needs, the employer will interview and screen you just like they would for a normal job. If you’re hired, you’ll be enrolled in the appropriate program at WSU Tech and your career journey begins!

How do you prepare for the Job-First Enrollment program application?

  • Make sure you have an up-to-date resume.
  • Be ready to interview.
  • Use all of the resources available like your school’s career center, YouTube videos or talking with friends and family.
  • Take a career competency quiz

There’s no formal education or specialized training required to apply! Employers are looking for aptitude, a willingness to learn attitude and interest. These employability skills are necessary for success.

How do I apply for the Job-First Enrollment program?

Check out the Student Employment opportunities brought to you by Shocker Career Accelerator.

Companies seeking to fill open positions should contact 316-WSU-HIRE (316-978-4473) or to get involved.