Learning skills

U.P. Home Health & Hospice employs high school students, aims to teach professional skills

From left, U.P. Home Health & Hospice student employees Hali Koepp, a 17-year-old senior at Marquette Senior High School and Greta Rickauer, a 17-year-old junior at Marquette Senior High School, work at U.P. Home Health & Hospice’s office in Marquette. UPHHH employs four high school students in its office each year, aiming to provide them with real-world work experience in a professional setting. (Photo courtesy of U.P. Home Health & Hospice)

MARQUETTE — Local high school students are getting real-life experience in a professional office setting by working at U.P. Home Health & Hospice offices in Marquette and Ishpeming.

Each year since 1990, UPHHH has employed four local high school students — two from the Marquette area and two from the county’s west end — aiming to give the students experience working in an office setting and teach them the skills they’ll need for the rest of their careers.

“What we believe our responsibility are to these students is to show them what the expectations are really like in the workforce,” UPHHH CEO Cindy Nyquist said.

For many of the students who have worked for UPHHH, it’s their first job; and Nyquist wants to make sure they learn workplace etiquette, such as responsibility, punctuality, respect, accountability and how to work with a team of co-workers in a professional setting.

While the main thing they want students to learn is to take responsibility and pride in their work, the students are also taught many basic office and workplace skills.

“They can learn how to work very effectively in an office setting,” Nyquist said. “And we expose them to all aspects of it — it might be filing, it might be copying, it might be sending out letters, it might be working on the computer, it might be data entry — anything that we can expose them to that we feel will be valuable to them in their future in doing a job later is what we try to do.”

Student employees said their positions at UPHHH have helped them learn the skills needed to succeed in an office environment and prepared them for their future careers.

“I feel UP Home Health and Hospice has offered me a positive and valuable business professional experience,” said UPHHH Student Employee Hali Koepp, a 17-year-old Marquette Senior High School student. “Working here has given me a true business mindset; showing me how to file and fax documents, interact with other coworkers and make phone calls in a professional manner, etc. It has also, shown me a little bit into the behind scenes of the healthcare field, which is where my post-graduation mindset is leaning towards. This job has also taught me the importance of confidentiality and how to work with many different important documents.”

For Greta Rickauer, 17, a senior at Marquette Senior High School and a current student employee at UPHHH, the job has provided “a wonderful experience that opens a new world while still in high school.”

“Many places that take in high schoolers are fast foods or big super stores, where although you are getting a common job experience, you aren’t working in a professional environment as you might while you are an adult,” Rickauer said. “Working at U.P. Home Heath & Hospice opens these new doors and encourages us high school students to play a role in the professional work world, allowing students like me to gain the experience. That is why it is so wonderful to me to have this opportunity to work in a professional environment and see what it is like working in the real world, so it won’t be such a big change once I get a job after I graduate from high school.

Brenna Hernandez, a past UPHHH student employee who is now employed as a photographer at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, said the position she held over a summer in the 1990s taught her about responsibility, accountability and what it means to hold a job.

“It felt like (Cindy) put a lot of trust in to me at young age, which felt good,” Hernandez said.

The position prepared her well to go into the workforce, as she learned numerous skills and had professional experience she could point to when applying for other jobs, Hernandez said.

“It was definitely nice to have that job on a resume; it’s hard to get a first job, so to be able to have that on a resume to show that I had some experience was a great starting point,” she said.

Nyquist feels student employee positions benefit both UPHHH and the students, she said.

“They really become valuable parts of our organization and we hope that they can realize that and internalize that,” Nyquist said. “and all along, (they are) learning how to be a better person, a more independent person and respectful of themselves and people around them.”

For those who are interested in a student employee position at UPHHH, Hernandez said: “if you get the opportunity, go for it and work as hard as you can — you’ll be at a really great place.”

Nyquist said applications are accepted for the positions on an on-going basis, and encourages interested parties to apply. Each position is 10 hours weekly, with hours worked after school. For more information on UPHHH, which has offices located at 1125 W. Ridge St. in Marquette and 510 Mather Avenue in Ishpeming call 906-225-4545 or 906-485-4545 or visit https://www.uphomehealth.org/.