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Businesses Empower Students with Real-World Training, Jobs

Businesses Empower Students with Real-World Training, Jobs

When we tout hands-on training from industry professionals, we truly mean it. From caramelization to CPR, continuing education students learn a variety of skills in the classrooms and apply them at apprenticeships, clinicals and externships. The benefits are reciprocal as both student and businesses receive a valuable educational benefit.

Our Culinary Apprenticeship students have the distinct pleasure to learn from Chef Robert Gerstenecker as part of their months-long training in our program. With Park 75 Restaurant at the Four Seasons Atlanta as one of their many classrooms, these future chefs get to take part in an amazing culinary experience.

Chef Robert brings a wealth of knowledge to these future food professionals. He has been a part of the Four Seasons team for 26 years; 11 with the Atlanta location.

“We were one of the first to partner with KSU’s [Culinary] apprenticeship program when there were only a handful of students,” he said. “I really found the idea of hands-on work to be so very important for the students today and wanted to support any way we could.”

The growth of the students is a rewarding experience for Chef Robert. From proper knife skills to food prep to service — he describes it as a “complete experience” for them.

His kitchen team is also involved in the educational factor: “It gives our full-time employees satisfaction of being able to share their passion with others and makes them feel valued as a teacher/mentor to the students.”

Chef Robert Gerstenecker

Chef Robert Gerstenecker works with a Culinary student to put the finishing touches on a dish.

The chef highlighted the ability to support the local community, provide future cooks with insight into the field, and a chance to connect with potential employees as additional value of serving as an apprenticeship site for the Culinary program.

“We recently hired one of the students,” Chef Robert said. “It was very much based on performance and the student’s positive attitude.”

Overall, this chef understands the value of apprenticeship-based learning. He said. “I think this type of education brings in people that a company would otherwise not be exposed to. It adds a fresh and exciting atmosphere to have students participate and bring in their curiosity and energy.”

Since 2005, our Certified Nursing Assistant students have been able to gain valuable experience at A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab nursing home. This facility serves as a clinical site where CNA students are able to implement the skills they’ve learned in the classroom.

Mary Helton

Mary Helton

Mary Helton, A.G. Rhodes HR Director, has hired numerous KSU CNA students because they met or exceeded expectations. She is also assured about their skills due to the caliber of the instructors in the CNA program.

As students progress through the clinicals, Mary said the growth is apparent, considering how many have little to no experience in nursing homes. She added, “There are also a lot of negative misconceptions about nursing homes, and it is nice to see students broaden their perspectives and show a greater appreciation and understanding. Our residents also enjoy and benefit from the engagement and the additional care that the students provide when they are here.”

This longtime partnership at A.G. Rhodes also allows experienced CNAs an opportunity to enhance their training and instruction skills when they work with the KSU students. Mary said, “When we open up our facility to students, we grow along with the students and find their feedback invaluable. We are always looking for ways to improve and do things more efficiently, and this relationship helps to foster that goal.”

Additional benefits of this collaboration include giving back to the community, developing valuable relationships, and promoting growth and learning.

“In today’s market with all of the employee challenges that companies face, these partnerships prove to be a vital tool for recruitment and retention,” Mary said. “We have opened our doors and partnered with a variety of programs, and overall it has been such a great experience.”

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