Story by Grade 10 World of Work Interns Jing Jing Yang & Cooper Xu
“Where is the chicken and the sauce?”
On her first day on the job at Park Hyatt Hotel, Grade 10 student Chloe had a crash-course in learning how to deal with demanding customers. It was part of Western Academy of Beijing’s World of Work program, a week-long internship for students to gain insight into an industry of their choice.
“We think it’s really important for students to try out their chosen career,” WAB’s High School Principal Melanie Vrba said. “Perhaps they’re thinking about studying in that subject and they’d like to know what it’s like, so we began organizing these opportunities 10 years ago.”
The students worked for a variety of local corporations, leading NGOs, cutting-edge research institutions, and many others. The experiences are unique and beneficial in different ways for each student, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they will need to make decisions about their future academic and career pathways.
For Chloe at the Park Hyatt, despite having to chase down the chicken for her customer’s salad, the experience reinforced her interest in working in hospitality.
“One of the skills I’ve been trained in this week is communication,” she said. “I think this is useful later on in life, because when we have to deal with our parents, our colleagues, or our employers, it’s very important to speak well and understand what they want.”
Chloe’s classmates Ally and Rylie spent their week working at True Run Media, following magazine editor Kipp Whittaker. For them, the position allowed a glimpse into the different roles in the journalism industry and gave them the chance to publish their own articles. For one assignment, they covered an event at a mall and produced a written story with photos.
“This has been a very educational experience for us, because we work in an office where every single part of the magazine process takes place -- from sourcing and writing, to layout and publishing,” Rylie said. “I originally expected to just write, but then I could blend all these skills I learned, which is quite exciting.”
For others, the program worked in the opposite way. Some students thought they were interested in a career in one field and the experience changed their perceptions. Two students working in architecture were tasked with designing a conceptual building, and the experience motivated them to pursue other interests.
“I thought it would be a more hands-on, collaborative approach, but then a lot of it was just your individual ability,” one student said of his internship. “It was interesting to do all this individual learning and research, but this isn’t something I would want to do later.”
Opportunities went beyond learning and experimenting: Some companies invited our interns to extend their period of work over the summer.
“We’ve always had very good interns from WAB,” International Center for Veterinary Services manager Mary Peng said. “If they’re interested and they apply, we’d be glad to take them for the summer, as well.”
World of Work is just one among many unique platforms WAB offers to inspire passion and connect our students with the extended community. Find out more about innovative learning opportunities at WAB here.