Teenagers get on the job training and other benefits at Christ the King's work study program

It's all about making progress

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By CYNTHIA-VAL CHAPMAN

Probably the toughest thing Tatianna Sims had to learn as a young employee was how to take, and grow from, constructive criticism from her supervisor. For the 19-year-old Christ the King Jesuit College Prep student, it was a bitter but necessary pill.

"I did not like taking constructive criticism," she admitted. "I was just mad. I would come in the office and not speak to her - I had a real bad attitude. She called me on it; sat me down and had a talk with me."

"She" is Nicole Jones, manager of out-patient registration and off-site registration and Sims' supervisor at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital where Sims works five days a month as part of CTK's Corporate Work Study Program. For Jones, the young lady's response provided the opportunity for a teachable moment.

"I told Tatianna 'in the workforce, you can be mad at your boss, but you have to be mad internal, not external, because it affects your performance.' She still doesn't like some of the things that I say, but it has to be done. She'll be ready when she goes into the workforce," Jones noted with a smile. "Although she may not like what her manager or supervisor says, she knows to take it in and do what she needs to do. And that's one of the ways she grew was constructive feedback."

The result is an easy camaraderie between the supervisor and the student that speaks to the respect each has for the other.

Sims takes to heart the feedback she gets and has applied it to her work at the hospital. As one of three CTK students working at Good Samaritan, Sims started with "more administrative duties" such as copying and filing. Now Sims works in Patient Access as a co-concierge. It is a high visibility position with a lot of patient interaction. From the time she begins work at 8:30 a.m., Sims is greeting patients and escorting them to destinations around the facility. She's on the phone, scheduling patient appointment and reading physician's orders for prescriptions.

That's only part of what an average day for Sims looks like. "Once my supervisor comes in I go in and ask if she has any work for me. I check the e-mails and I put the paperwork in the binders - I file her associate files," she said.

It's the feedback and accessibility to Jones that makes her work assignment a standout. "My supervisor ... molded me into the woman I am today," Sims says. "She showed me how to [maintain] myself in a professional corporation office. I know I can come to her if I have problems with the work, with any of my co-workers I can come talk to her and she's there for me. And she critiques me, not in a mean way, but in a good way," said the young lady who plans to major in social work and early childhood education at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., next fall.

Ollie Sims, Tatianna's mother, says the CTK work study program in general, and her daughter's relationship with Jones in particular, have been a real benefit. Of the program, she notes that "it has helped ground her and teach her that nothing is really free, you need to earn. As a young adult you need to learn that your parent can't give you everything.

"It's really been a pleasure as her mother to watch her grow over these 19 years and hope that she continues to grow and go far in life and do it the right way."

Sims has helped create policies, assisted with off-site event staffing, created Excel spreadsheets for projects and provided clerical support to the hospital emergency room manager.

Despite the long days - 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on work days - Sims maintains a 3.5 GPA and makes time for homework and school activities that include the cheerleading team, praise dancing, honor society and peer minister.

Sims' last day at work is May 29. There may be tears: "I want to see her grow, but I don't want to see her go," Jones admitted.

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