Tech college students gain job experience by providing services to the community

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By Susan Pohorski

Where can you get help with your tax return, have your teeth cleaned, get a haircut or a massage, and get the oil changed in your car all in one place? At your local technical college.

Wisconsin’s technical colleges give students real world job experience by offering services to the community at a low cost. These services benefit people who may not be able to afford them otherwise.

Several colleges are offering tax help in cooperation with local professionals. At Mid-State Technical College a mix of certified volunteers and accounting students help low-income residents with income tax preparations. Bob Smith, an accounting instructor with Mid-State, said the opportunity for students is "invaluable."

Second-year accounting students at Blackhawk Technical College prepare tax returns under the supervision of their instructor every Tuesday through April 5. Tax preparation is also available on Saturdays at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

As for auto maintenance needs, almost all 16 Wisconsin Technical Colleges offer some auto mechanics programs. Customers pay for the parts and the labor is free.

The Automotive Maintenance Technician program at Lakeshore Technical College accepts requests from the general public for automotive repairs including brakes, steering and suspension repair, electrical system repairs, automatic transmission servicing and more. Check with your local college to see when these services are offered. It may take longer than your regular shop, but will cost less and give a learning opportunity to students.

At the Shear Inspiration learning lab Chippewa Valley Technical College students perform salon services such as hair coloring, shampoo, cut and style, manicures and pedicures. Several other colleges have similar programs.

Students in the Therapeutic Massage Program staff and operate the Madison College Massage Clinic. The clinic offers massages by appointment in the spring (beginning mid-March), summer and fall (beginning in October). There is a small fee charged for full-hour massages. In addition, students offer free chair massages a few times during the year.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Green Bay was admitted to the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is the third time the college was recognized for engaging students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.

Physical therapist assistant students at NWTC are currently offering “Keep Stepping” for adults over the age of 60. The free classes cover healthy aging, home safety, fall prevention and other health and wellness topics, individual health and fitness assessments and exercise.

Auto collision, dental hygienist and electrical power distribution students all served the community as NWTC participated in more than 300 service learning projects meeting the needs of non-profit agencies in Northeastern Wisconsin.

Find out what services your local technical college offers by calling or visiting their website. Students are waiting to practice what they are learning.