2017-06-04 / Insight

Almont Schools offer summer employment opportunities

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Kevin Heim, who will be a senior this fall at Almont High School, and Olivia Burrone, who will be off to Kettering University, both like the flexibility that coaching tennis at the high school offers. 
Photos by Phil Foley Kevin Heim, who will be a senior this fall at Almont High School, and Olivia Burrone, who will be off to Kettering University, both like the flexibility that coaching tennis at the high school offers. Photos by Phil Foley ALMONT — Talk to students in Almont Community Schools’ summer employment program and you’ll hear a common theme — the money isn’t great, but the experience is.

Almont offers its students a couple of opportunities to pick up a little summer cash. One, coaching tennis, has been around for decades while the other — working in the district’s IT department — has just been around a few years.

Jack Bostian, who took over the district’s IT department four years ago, said that with more than 2,000 devices in the district ranging from Apple TVs and projectors to iPads and Chromebooks to desktops and 3D printer, he wouldn’t be able to keep everything running without the student employees.


Brandon Marklin, who graduated in 2015, is back for another summer of working on everything from Chrome books to 3D printers at Almont Community Schools. Marklin, who’s now studying information technology online with Southern New Hampshire University, said the money isn’t great working for the school, though the experience is. Brandon Marklin, who graduated in 2015, is back for another summer of working on everything from Chrome books to 3D printers at Almont Community Schools. Marklin, who’s now studying information technology online with Southern New Hampshire University, said the money isn’t great working for the school, though the experience is. As soon as school lets out, his team of five will inventory, clean and repair 400 iPads and 1,200 Chromebooks to be ready for school in the fall. “We do all our own troubleshooting,” he said.

Bostian said the district’s summer employment opportunities in IT are something of an apprenticeship program. Students start out with “grunt work” like cleaning screens and work their way up to network maintenance.

“It’s a gateway,” said Brandon Marklin, who graduated in 2015 and is working full time at the school while he takes a break from college.

Another student, Brendan Feys, who’s graduating this year, has parlayed his experience into his own business — Feys Consulting and IT Services. While the business isn’t big enough, yet, to support him completely, Feys’ clients include an Imlay City-area accounting firm and a plumbing supply company in in Auburn Hills.

This will be the last summer Feys will do computer work for Almont Schools. He said while the school district pays students between $7.50 and $10 an hour, his consulting work brings in between $60 and $72 an hour.

Marklin said that while he can earn considerably more working on a project with Feys, “Money is not my prime concern. I’m here for the experience.”

Bostian, who managed McDonald’s restaurants in Davison, Lapeer, Imlay City and Capac for 15 years before he got into teaching, said computer skills aren’t the primary thing he looks for when he picks a student for his team.

He said he looks for eighth and ninth grade-students who have nothing below a C for grades and no discipline issues in the previous six months. He added they have to have a resume and letter of recommendation from a staff member and go through an interview.

“I’m not so much looking for people who can do IT work as people who show up on time and can think on their feet,” he said.

Bostian said his tech students have done fairly well for themselves. He noted along with Feys, who’s bidding on installing security cameras for Dryden Community Schools this summer, he’s got another graduate who’s studying at Michigan Tech and working as an intern at an Auburn Hills robotics company this summer.

“These kids pick up things quick,” Bostian said. “They’re digital natives. They pick up things quicker than digital immigrants like us.”

Marklin said, “I’d like to get paid more, but I don’t have any certifications and I don’t pay for housing, so I don’t really mind.”

Almont’s six-week tennis program, which will start later this month, works out perfectly for Olivia Bussone who will study mechanical engineering at Kettering University later this summer.

She and Kevin Heim, who will be a senior at Almont this fall, both said the skills they picked in the coaching program look good on a college application.

Varsity tennis coach Rob Bussone said he hires eight to 10 students to coach each summer, depending on how many kindergarten to eighthgrade students sign up for tennis lessons.

Neither Bussone or Heim see tennis as a career path. Heim is thinking about majoring in physics at Michigan State.

They appreciate the soft skills they’ve developed in the program.

Olivia added coaching allowed her to pick up a little spending money while still being able to fit in things like volleyball and engineering camp, things that would be difficult to do with a traditional summer job.

Rob said that most of his coaches went through the tennis program when they were younger, so he sees it as a way for skills to be passed on.

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