Program gives students business world experience

Jonathan Toles is part of a program that is giving students real world business experience.
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Dozens of high school students in Indianapolis are getting a jump on their future, thanks to a program that moves them out of the classroom.

Providence Cristo Rey High School junior Jonathan Toles starts his week this way. He steps off his school bus, but instead of heading through the front doors of his high school, he steps through the revolving door of an office building.

It's a setting most students wouldn't see until after they graduated from college, but not for Jonathan.

"My first period is computer apps, so this right here helps me do better in computer apps in first period, 'cause this is on the computer. And it's different, because I have to be around more adults and I have to be more mature," he said.

This is all part of the Work Study Corporate partners program, where area employers have agreed to accept high school students into their offices one day each week.

"I try to think about when I walked into the business world for the first time walking out of college, and being intimidated just walking into an office, not knowing what to do or how to behave. But as we've seen them grow, they know what a business environment looks like," said Jon Loftin, president & COO of MJ Insurance.

The insurance company on the far north side of Indianapolis has become a real-life classroom for students each year. It is among 50 corporate work study partners that are involved in the Cristo Rey program.

Kathryn Densborn is the vice president of Corporate Work Study and Institutional Advancement at Providence Cristo Rey High School.

"The students mature very quickly.@They learn a work ethic, they learn time management. We find that students who perform in the workplace, also perform well in school," Densborn said.

As for Jonathan Toles, he says the one-day-a-week assignment has helped him mature quickly.

"People say I act more older for my age, so it helps me develop more outside of school. Where ever I go, I can carry myself professionally and set a good example for people," he said.

Instructors say not only does this approach improve a students career success, they're finding students grades back in the classroom are better as well.