Work-Based Learning

Work for Pay, Academic Credit, and Valuable Skills: MNPS Expanding Work-Based Learning Opportunities
Posted on 12/03/2021
male student in workplace

Along with their last classes, graduation ceremonies, and celebrations with classmates, MNPS seniors can now add one more exciting opportunity to their final semester: getting paid while earning academic credit and learning valuable skills.

In January, the district will expand its new Work-Based Learning program, which gives seniors at high schools with Academies of Nashville partnerships a chance to get hands-on experience in a diverse range of job opportunities at MNPS offices and with local business partners. two students in the workplace

All students in MNPS jobs will earn $15 an hour and up to two credits while building employability skills that prepare them for success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Students who work for private employers will earn similar wages. 

“I’d say do it,” said Andrew Allen, a John Overton High School senior and aspiring software developer or engineer who has been working four afternoons a week since October as a youth apprentice for Accenture, a global professional services company specializing in strategy and consulting, technology, and other areas. “There’s no reason not to. You’re getting knowledge you wouldn’t get otherwise and spending your time wisely.”

“What I’m learning in school is what I’m applying here,” said Braylon Gann, a senior in Overton’s Mechanical, Engineering, and Plumbing program – part of the Academy of Engineering – who is working 16 hours a week at Enterprise Solutions, an electrical subcontractor with a long list of recent and upcoming projects in Nashville and around the country. “I’m trying to be a wet sponge and soak up everything.”

Benefits for Students

Accenture and Enterprise Solutions are just two of more than a dozen employers that have already hired seniors from Overton as well as Maplewood, Pearl-Cohn, and Whites Creek high schools. The Work-Based Learning program will expand to Antioch, Cane Ridge, Glencliff, Hillsboro, Hillwood, Hunters Lane, McGavock, and Stratford for the spring semester.

"MNPS wants to give students every opportunity to learn about possible career paths first-hand through the Academies of Nashville and the many generous business partners we're fortunate to work with every day," said Jennifer Bell, director of the Academies of Nashville and Career and Technical Education for the district. "We're excited that seniors can now get paid as they earn credit and learn important skills and work habits with some of Nashville's best employers. What a great way to prepare for life after high school!"two Overton students in front of IT Academies sign

Students should contact their school counselor, college and career readiness coach, or academy coach for further details and to apply. To be eligible, parents must consent to the arrangement, and students must:

  • Be in 12th grade and on track for graduation
  • Have and maintain a "C" average
  • Maintain an average attendance rate of 90%
  • Have no more than five unexcused absences

Maintain positive behavior, including, but not limited to, no 300-400 offenses and no more than two 200-level offenses during the current school year.

Students will have a school-based advisor in addition to supervision provided by the employer.

Wide Range of Employment Opportunities

The employers are in industries ranging from health care and construction to banking and information technology, among others. Accenture, which has more than 600,000 employees worldwide, said it wants to identify talent and diversify its workforce through its 10-month youth apprenticeship program, which includes five Overton seniors. 

“Our apprentices from Metro Nashville Public Schools are getting market-relevant real-world experience with us that helps prepare them for a bright future, promising careers, and, by extension, it helps grow our local highly specialized technology talent pool,” said Alejandro Sam, Accenture’s Advanced Technology Development Center lead. “In today’s competitive market, access to skilled talent is key to sustainable growth for the Nashville technology community and for Accenture.”

R.J. Lillibridge, Enterprise Solutions’ Vice President of Support Services, said student employees are learning a skilled trade in a controlled, safe environment. They’re gaining an understanding of tools, materials, and how to speak the language of the industry while being steeped in values of respect, reliability, and curiosity.

“Most of our people have over 20 years of experience,” Lillibridge said. “We love putting the students around our people.”

Some of the seniors who are already in the Work-Based Learning program are planning to go to college next fall, while others say that has never been in their plans. Either way, they’re learning extremely important lessons on the job before graduating from high school.

“It’s learning life skills,” said Jessie Mota, another Overton senior working at Enterprise Solutions.

Taylor Wedgewood, one of the Accenture apprentices from Overton, said he’s been learning good office habits and enjoying opportunities to ask questions of key executives. He’s “seeing how things work” and learning what professionalism looks like.

And he’s all in for as much as he can learn in the months ahead.

“You get as much out of this apprenticeship program,” Taylor said, “as you put into it.”

More Information

Visit the MNPS Student Employees page to learn more, see which jobs are available so far, and apply, or contact your school counselor, college and career readiness coach, or academy coach.

This is full list of Work-Based Learning employers for the spring semester.

  • Accenture
  • Aegis Labs
  • Bridgestone Firestone
  • Davidson County Juvenile Court system
  • Eidson Tire Company
  • Energy Electives
  • Enterprise Solutions
  • FirstBank
  • HCA Healthcare
  • Meharry Medical College
  • MNPS Communications Department
  • MNPS Facilities and Construction
  • MNPS Office of English Learners
  • MNPS Technology Services
  • Nashville Business Incubation Center
  • Saint Thomas Health
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