5 In-School Vocational Jobs (That Isn't a Coffee Cart or Dog Treat Business) 

functional life skills life skills transition Sep 05, 2022

 I can picture it now…


You are an effective, student-focused teacher who wants to provide valuable vocational experiences to give students work-based practice beyond a vocational box in the classroom.  You want them to get out of your room, work with new, less familiar adults, and learn on-the-job skills without coordinating (or finding the funds for) transportation.


Unfortunately, the thought of starting an entire business (like a coffee cart or dog treats) that your whole class could find value in AND that you could find the time to run seems overwhelming and unrealistic.  


Well, if you teach in a school building then there are SO many valuable vocational experiences that your students could engage in that would benefit both the student AND the school community.


I know there are the go-to jobs, like shredding and cafeteria cleaning tasks, but consider the following 5 vocational in-school building jobs as they have the potential to strengthen skills that could lead to future volunteer and competitive jobs or transfer to their home setting.  


Depending on how your building is set up, most of these jobs will be out-of-sight of your student’s peers because that is important on many levels.  On a similar note, most will also be set-it-and-mostly-forget-it type jobs because there will be little day-to-day work on your part to create tasks to make them run (because the work will be created by the school community at large).  


5 In School Building Vocational Jobs


1. Clean Fitness Equipment in Weight Rooms

If your school is big enough to have a separate weight room for athletics, then this is a great skill because it can be transferred to either a volunteer position or competitive job.  Some equipment may require a special cleaner, some machines only need the handles cleaned, and you can create a schedule to periodically clean equipment from top to bottom.  


2. Hang Approved Fliers Around School 

This is a great task for students who are social (because they will see a lot of people in the hallway during this job) and who are practicing communication (again, lots of hallway people).  Students will need to check in with student center staff to gather the approved fliers and they may even make copies before heading to the hallways.  Take this job one step further by having students carefully take down fliers for past (or expired) events based on the dates on the flier.  Since the dates on the fliers will be in various locations and written differently, this experience is a great start for those who want to work in a store similar to Walgreens, CVS, or a grocery store checking expiration dates.  


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3. Sanitize and Charge Devices for the IT Department

I have a feeling that the IT staff in your building would welcome someone to clean, sanitize, and charge incoming and outgoing devices.  This is a detailed job and requires special cleaners and focus, but is predictable without being boring.  Since so many schools are now 1:1 with computers since the boom of distance learning, there is likely a collection of loan devices that the student population can borrow when their device needs fixing and this constant rotation of computers coming in and out will give endless practice for your students.  


4. Wash and Fold or Hang PE/Athletic Uniforms/Choir Gowns

This is a great skill that can transfer to a volunteer setting, to the home setting, or to a competitive paid job!  You know the drill, run the large capacity washing and drying machines.  Take the job one step further and have the student organize the clothing by size, by sport, numerically, or alphabetically (if names are on the back).  Athletic uniforms could be a 5 day a week job and PE and Choir Gowns could periodically fill your time when there are no uniforms to clean.   


5. Box Tear Down for Maintenance Department

In the age of Amazon deliveries, there are lots of boxes that come through a school building on a daily basis.  This job is great for those who want physical work, those who work at a slower pace, or who may want to pace as they work.  If students are using a box cutter, this adds another layer of safety and uniform wearing (like an apron to hold the box cutter).  If there aren’t enough boxes in your building to run this 5 days a week, consider scheduling other 1-2 day a week jobs and have maintenance leave all the boxes for your students to tackle for specific days.  


Be open to throwing together a few smaller, less frequent jobs to round out a 5 day a week vocational experience.  This will keep the vocational experience exciting for students.  For example:


Monday- Shredding

Tuesday- Paper delivery to different offices

Wednesday- PE uniform wash

Thursday- Box tear down

Friday- Flier hang-up and tear down


All of these in-school vocational job experiences will pay off in the long run.  Students will gain confidence in new skills, get to interact and ‘work for’ new adults in the building, and contribute to their school community in a new way.  These are all HUGE wins!  


What other in-building jobs do your students have? Tell me, I'd love to know!

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