Not just anyone can work at the Ridgecrest Café. Only the most motivated, enthusiastic and well-prepared workers are hired to staff and manage this start-up enterprise, which is already on the road to business success.
For seventh and eighth graders at Ridgecrest Academy, getting their first job at the Café is a learning opportunity. Interested students go through all the steps any job seeker would navigate. They fill out a job application and answer tough job interview questions. They explain their qualifications and why they want the job. Along the way they are coached by Ridgecrest Transition Specialist Kim Spagnola, who helps them prepare, shares tips and feedback, and explains how to navigate the difficult process of getting and keeping a job.
The Café is currently run by three student teams – each comprised of a Greeter, Order Taker and Cashier – who take turns keeping the business open every Wednesday morning from 9:10-11:10 a.m. This morning, Nick has many ideas on how to expand the student-run business. Jonathan straightens the merchandise to make it more attractive and prepares to take orders. Dashaun greets the first customer with a smile, offering help and explaining the pricing. He dashes over to the toaster to help prepare a bagel.
“The students are very responsible. They understand the expectations they’ll be held to if they want to maintain employment and are eager to learn transferable work skills.” said Spagnola. “They learn to work together as a team; have ideas for new products and for ways to increase sales.”
Each student has their own reason for getting involved. “I wanted to meet new friends,” said Dashaun. “And my big brother has a job, so I wanted to see what it’s like.” “I used to work at a store, so I’m familiar with a lot of this,” said Nick. “It’s fun to be doing it again. I’m good at this!”
This is the second post-COVID year for the Café and Spagnola is hoping to see it grow if student interest remains high. In the meantime, these young professionals are learning important foundational skills that will serve them well as they prepare for the future.