Preparing Students for Jobs – West Michigan Virtual Academy

Jennifer McDermott

Jennifer Bare-McDermott, Administrative Services Manager at West Michigan Virtual Academy

Sit up straight. Make eye contact. Make sure you have references. Use action words to describe what you do. List volunteer experience. Don’t bring your cell phone with you. Make sure you know about the company. These are just a few of the tips that Jennifer Bare-McDermott shared with students at West Michigan Virtual Academy (WMVA) to help them build a professional resume and learn skills necessary to interview for a job with a potential employer. This spring, 10 students capitalized on the opportunity to learn and sharpen their skills so they can better prepare themselves to join the workforce in Battle Creek.

“This workshop is not only about helping student to improve their ability to get a job, but also about changing behaviors and teaching them the importance of getting a job in the long-term,” said Jennifer Bare McDermott, Administrative Services Manager at West Michigan Virtual Academy.

Taj Bryant

Taj Bryant, 14, student at West Michigan Virtual Academy


Employers value student that have work experience. On-the-job experience can help students learn soft skills, manage their time and explore potential career paths through hands-on job tasks. And, on top of all that, being a part of the workforce helps them earn money for college and spur the local economy.

Involvement in the workshop already helped a couple of WMVA students. Students Taj Bryant (14 years old) and Lance Clark (17 years old) used what they learned in the workshop to apply for summer employment through the Battle Creek Parks and Recreation Department. Taj and Lance will use their work experience to help them gain experience, earn some money and accomplish their future goals. Taj wants to go to Western Michigan University to become a doctor so that he can help sick kids and cure disease. Lance wants to join the Air Force.

What’s next? As with any new effort, McDermott needs to tweak some things and plans to offer it again in the fall. She hopes

Lance Clark, 17, student at West Michigan Virtual Academy

Lance Clark, 17, student at West Michigan Virtual Academy

that students will be able to obtain credit through a semester-long course or incorporate it into a career exploration course already offered at the school. Ultimately, it’s about helping kids get the support they need to be successful and that’s just what they are doing.

For more information about this workshop, please contact Jennifer Bare-McDermott via email at or visit West Michigan Virtual Academy’s website at

Click on the video below to hear from Jennifer, Lance and Taj about the workshop, what the students learned and what happened as a result.