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Business partners, students interact through remote Interview Week

Welcome to our new series, COVID-19 Innovations. Here, we chronicle the innovative ways that career and technical educators continue to engage students as lifelong learners and prepare them for rewarding careers, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020–21 school year.

The past year has presented significant challenges as well as inspiring examples of CTE programs and partners collaborating to provide students with meaningful interactions with their peers and industry leaders.

Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) partners with secondary schools to deliver a school-based global business simulation that enables students to develop business, professional, technology and financial literacy skills for future success through hands-on entrepreneurial experience. This allows students to learn business by doing business and to test drive potential careers.

Expand access.

In spring 2020, VEI shifted its in-person learning experiences to online platforms. Students expanded their networks, engaging more actively with other student-run businesses across their state and in mentorship with business professionals in other states. In addition, more students are participating in virtual events because certain barriers to entry are eliminated. This particularly benefits VEI students attending schools in under-resourced communities.

This technological shift also helped expand the hiring process for leadership of student-run businesses. Normally, the teacher is solely responsible for hiring decisions. In 2020–21, VEI facilitated a virtual Interview Week, during which business professionals participated in 15-minute interviews with prospective candidates. The interviewers shared their feedback with the instructor to help them make a final decision.

Develop transferable skills.

The interview presented a real-world learning experience for students and a venue for demonstrating their leadership skills. Students received immediate feedback from business professionals about their strengths and growth areas in interviewing. Some of the business partners who facilitated interviews were former VEI students, providing students with role models to emulate.

Participants, both students and industry professionals, offered comments about their experience, which is being used to refine next year’s program. Overall, learners and business partners have shared how meaningful it was for them to engage in conversation with one another.

Do you have a COVID-19 innovation to share?

ACTE wants to hear about the innovative ways you are coping with the impact of the pandemic on CTE and career development. Please fill out this short form, and you could be featured in this series. For additional ideas on remote, blended and socially distanced in-person learning for CTE, check out ACTE’s comprehensive guide High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year and CTE distance learning lesson plan resources.