Fri | Sep 22, 2023

Growth & Jobs | Summer employment – Mutually beneficial to students and organisations

Published:Tuesday | June 6, 2023 | 12:18 AM
Gillian Jackson, senior manager - data and analytics, The Jamaica National Group.
Gillian Jackson, senior manager - data and analytics, The Jamaica National Group.
G. Andre Latty, chief of talent, performance and culture, The Jamaica National Group.
G. Andre Latty, chief of talent, performance and culture, The Jamaica National Group.

EMPLOYING STUDENTS during the summer holidays has proven to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for students and organisations, creating opportunities for students to get valuable work experience and develop various skills. At the same time, it provides organisations with many advantages, including introducing high-potential talent and creating a pipeline for talent.

In 2004, when Gillian Jackson obtained a summer job at the Jamaica National Building Society, while a first-year student at The University of the West Indies, little did she imagine that 18 years later she would still be working with the organisation. During her tenure at JN – now restructured, and renamed The Jamaica National Group – she has pursued graduate and certification training in data and analytics which has enabled her in securing several promotions to attain her current role as senior manager – data & analytics, The Jamaica National Group.

“I’ve been at JN from I was young. JN is my corporate home. I appreciate the opportunities that JN affords me to learn, lead and grow. It drives my loyalty to the organisation,” she pointed out.

“The culture is very accommodating. I have a good work-life balance, and I appreciate the mentorship that I’ve received from different persons I’ve worked with across the organisation,” she added.

Jackson currently leads a team of data analysts and modellers who are enabling the reengineering of credit processes and enhancing credit risk reporting, which is expected to significantly enhance customer experience.

Cicyln Joseph-Johnson, programme manager, JN Consult, who works closely with Jackson, related that Jackson is a valuable member of the team.

“Gillian is a results-oriented, very focused young lady who produces high-quality work. She is data-driven, brings passion to her work, is dedicated to quality and to getting it right. I see her as a change maker, a value creator, certainly a great team player. Because of her passion for numbers, she’s able to pivot in quite a number of areas. She’s always somebody you can count on to assist and share her knowledge of data science.”

For several years, The Jamaica National Group has maintained a vibrant summer employment programme, employing scores of students from across the island. As much as possible, they are assigned to the departments and member companies that complement their areas of study. This year, approximately 35 students are on board for the summer programme.

G. Andre Latty, chief of talent, performance and culture, The Jamaica National Group, explained that summer employment provides many advantages to students.

“One of the greatest benefits for students is that it gives them the chance to get work experience and learn new skills which enhance their résumés, thus increasing their chances of getting permanent employment opportunities in the future, as well as leadership positions in clubs and societies at their respective learning institution. It also helps them with their professional development, as they learn to manage time, to work as a team, and to identify problems and solutions.”

“The work experience helps to solidify their career choice because of the exposure they receive, especially if they got to work in an area that is of interest to them. For others, it allows them to explore different career paths. The experience improves their understanding of the professional world and the functional areas of an organisation, and helps them make informed career choices,” he said.

Furthermore, Latty pointed out, summer employment provides financial independence to students.

“They get to earn an income to cover personal expenses, to add to savings, or to put towards tuition for the new school year. For some students, it helps to offset financial expenses in their families.”

The human relations expert also emphasised that workplaces often benefit from hiring students during the summer.

“For companies, they get to establish a pool of prospective employees from which they can readily access persons to fill vacancies when they arise. The company has the chance to assess the student’s performance, work ethics, and compatibility within the company culture. This saves the company time and resources in identifying persons to hire,” he explained.

Latty also related that students bring fresh perspectives, mind sets and innovative ideas into the workplace, which often lead to enhanced problem-solving, process improvement and, if properly leveraged, can give an organisation a competitive advantage.

“In addition, they are very knowledgeable about technology and learn quickly how to use it. Therefore, it gives companies ready access to talent that can help to enhance their operations.”