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Actual Kids Are Working at EY Now

an empty classroom

Just the other day we were talking about initiatives around the profession to ease the burden of the 150 hour requirement for CPA licensure that tie together education and work experience, like work-for-credit programs or 5th year education partnerships between firms and universities. Today, we’ve learned of another education-experience partnership: a high school in North Carolina that is sending kids to work at accounting firms, among other local employers.

WRAL reports that at Cristo Rey Research Triangle High School in Durham — a Catholic-based private school open to students of all faiths — its 140 students attend classes four days a week and work for one. Its 37 corporate partners (like Cisco, Lenovo, Microsoft, and EY) pay 50% of the student’s tuition. According to the school, the total cost to educate each student is about $15,700 but family contributions average $70/month, including the tuition support from the work study model. At Cristo Rey, the average family of four has an income of $30,000 a year.

Student/employer matches are based on the students’ interests according to Cristo Rey prez Jeb Myers. “If a student really likes math, we will get them into an accounting firm. If they are an extrovert, we try to place them in a company where they will get to work with people.” …who’s gonna tell him? The students tend to stay with the same company throughout their high school years. “They’re doing real work … and we want to support them through it,” he said. “We believe everyone has the talent. Our students don’t necessarily come from families that live in and around business professionals, so this gives [students] the opportunity to see that they can do it or so they can see themselves in that company in the future.”

In the WRAL segment video — which doesn’t have the option to embed so you’ll just have to watch it on their site — we meet aspiring economist and 10th grader Emmanuel Johnson who is learning how to grind spreadsheets at EY.

It only gets worse from here, kiddo. Sorry.

Emmanuel Johnson, a 10th grader, wants to be an economist. He spends one day per week at accounting firm Ernst & Young, where he manages tables and databases and creates PowerPoint presentations for the company.

“I really like how Cristo Rey provides an opportunity for young people to know people in corporate areas and to have connections at an early age so when they do graduate they won’t be out of a job,” Johnson said.

Some of the kids work remotely, like the 12 who are at Cisco, while others are working in schools or offices. “Other students travel to a corporate office weekly to work alongside professionals, organizing spreadsheets and databases, coding, managing the front desk, assisting with marketing campaigns and more,” says WRAL.

The school keeps tabs on how the kids are doing at work and helps them assimilate to corporate culture. Director of corporate work study Roger Reed gets feedback from the students’ employers, and teachers provide the kids — as young as 14 — with the practical skills one needs in the corporate world like how to keep eye contact, network, and write professional emails.

So what do we think? Beats the burger-slinging job I had in high school that only taught me how to make change and hate the general public for five bucks an hour.

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