Students given advice, employment opportunities at local store

Leola Hatcher speaks with 3 students at tableWhat should a student wear at a job interview? How can a student best represent themselves when applying for a job? What will be expected of a student when seeking employment?

These are just a few questions that were answered for students at a recent event celebrating the partnership between DeKalb County School District (DCSD) and a local Walmart.

Martin Luther King Jr. High School welcomed Walmart Personnel Coordinator, Leola Hatcher, on March 25. Hatcher—in partnership with the school’s Work-Based Learning Coordinator Regina McComb as well as school media specialists Derek Willis and Betty Mayfield—provided information to students about gaining employment, interviewing, and landing a job at her organization.

“We try to partner with schools in the neighborhood,” said Hatcher. “We have opportunities for students who are ready, willing, and able to work. We’re looking for excellent individuals to work for our company and have plenty of positions available.”

Hatcher also conducted group interviews, seeing which DCSD students would be a perfect fit for the local Walmart, located at 2427 Gresham Road in Atlanta. After meeting with the dozen students attending the event, she was pleased that all are eligible candidates for cashier, cart pusher, and stock positions.

These jobs would be ideal for students finishing up their high school career and transitioning to college, Hatcher said. Even students planning to attend college out of the metro Atlanta area are considered prime candidates, as transfers are always available.

“We have marketing, IT—many things people don’t know about,” Hatcher said. “This way, students can find out and make a career out of it. We have individuals who start out as cart pushers who become store managers and more.”

Leola HatcherIf hired, attending MLK High students will be able to work during the school day as part of the DCSD’s work-based learning program, which allows students to leave campus for work.

Student Jivone Beckford, who already utilizes the program as an employee at Men’s Wearhouse, appreciates how work-based learning provides a better balance between school and the world at large. Though he enjoys his job immensely, he says shifts in retail can be quite demanding when juggling schoolwork.

“We’re very lucky,” Beckford said. “I’m able to leave school around 11:40 a.m., go home, and rest before work. The program gives me extra time to complete homework before work, which can really help if I have to put in a nine-hour shift.”

Work-based Learning Coordinator Regina McComb said Walmart is an ideal employer for students due to the company’s round-the-clock schedule and compatibility.

“We try to help high school juniors and seniors connect learning in high school with the world of work,” said McComb. “We teach them employability skills that will make them successful no matter what route they take after high school, such as attendance, punctuality, dealing with conflict, social media, credit, finance, and more. Today, we have some of our seniors approaching graduation, and they have the opportunity to join the Walmart team.”

work based learning staffAccording to MLK High School Principal Ennis Harvey, the event, as well as its outcomes, coincide with the school’s mission of preparing intelligent, articulate, mature, knowledgeable, involved, nonviolent and goal oriented (I AM KING) students.

“We felt a need to provide our students with additional support as we look at real, post-secondary options,” Harvey said. “We always talk about college and careers as the end goal, but how do we get them there? How do we build those skills that are needed prior to a student’s career? We partnered with Walmart today to provide a leg up in building those skills that are going to help them be successful.”

Harvey said it is integral for high schools to partner with local businesses to better serve and benefit students.

“A school cannot be apart from its community,” Harvey said. “The community is only as strong as what we produce into it. We have to create environments for our student to not just survive, but thrive. These students are our best and our brightest—the ones who have answered the call. They bring added value to organizations like Walmart.”