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Soft skills lessons
November 3, 2017

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Some Rugby High School students are getting a lesson in improving their soft skills.

At the beginning of this year, juniors and seniors in RHS Ag Instructor Travis Fritel's Ag Education 3 and 4 classes learned some college and career readiness skills, including filling out scholarships, resumes and cover letters, and job interview preparation. This year, a community link was added for students to develop interview and communication skills.

"Kids struggle to explain themselves or portray a message that they want [to] if it's not through text or email," said Fritel. "To make contact with somebody through a phone call or face-to-face seems to be impossible for [some] people nowadays."

Students arrange a lunch interview with five individuals-whom Fritel chose at random-by either going to their workplace, home or via phone call. The students then get to know the employers and explain themselves.

The employers students meet with have comment-based rubrics of which skills students showed strength in and what skills were lacking.

After the lunch interview students pay for the lunch, bring Fritel the receipts and learn how to get reimbursements.

Students are reimbursed from monies from the ag education budget. The Rugby Job Development Authority is also helping to offset the costs, with the JDA board having approved a $750 funding request-or $25 per student for 30 students-for the project at their October meeting.

Fritel said the idea for the program came from an ag teacher's program that fellow RHS ag instructor Kasey Okke learned of at a regional ag teachers' conference in Wahpeton this past summer. Okke pitched the idea to Fritel and they built on it, making it more related to job interviews and also taking some input from persons in the community.

Fritel said some of the students were hesitant going in.

"They fought me very hard right off the bat," Fritel said. "So far the ones who completed it came back and said it wasn't that bad.

"Once the conversation started and it got struck up, it was really, really easy for most of them. It was the awkwardness of getting it set up and started with somebody you don't know, but once it was started it was really no problem."

Fritel said this is the first year this program is being done, but he foresees it being a yearly thing.

"I may change employers [students meet with], I may change some things around," Fritel said. "It's kind of one of those you live, you learn and you build off it."

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