As a business student at College of the Rockies, Brandon Ouillette knows how important it is to gain an education in business outside the classroom.

Ouillette has been working at Players Bench in Cranbrook for five years, ever since the age of 16. What once started as a skate sharpening and back room gig has now transformed into a valuable sales, communications and marketing position.

This growth has taken place with the help of the Trust’s School Works program, which offers a wage subsidy to help Basin businesses, non-profits and more hire full-time students, including apprentices, on a part-time basis during the school year.

“There are so many different people coming in here, and I’m able to talk with them, communicate and learn what they are all about,” says Ouillette. “I learn about sales and how to do a lot of stuff on the computer. I’ve also learned about marketing.”

“I talk with people and get to know what they want, what we should bring in and what the next best thing on the market is.”

Ouillette also takes on more senior responsibilities, such as closing out the computers at the end of the day. And he’s gained many connections through his position.

“It’s great to be able to go to school and still have some extra money to actually live life, while working a great job,” he says. “The School Works program has really helped me during the year. I would have been grinding through without it.”

Dave Snopek, Owner of Players Bench, says that having Ouillette work at his store year-round is beneficial to not only the company itself, but also to his customers. “It enables me to have stability in the store. When I have someone who knows everything from the ground up, it really does help. It allows you to develop a well-rounded employee. It’s also great to have that kind of stability for my customers, because they feel more comfortable and well-looked-after if they see a familiar face and know that my workers know what they’re talking about.”

Snopek says that when young adults are attending post-secondary, it’s difficult to find a job where they can make good money for their schooling and other associated costs. The School Works program “is a great way to keep employees at your business, because, in Cranbrook especially, it’s hard to find a job that pays well. I commend the Trust for helping with that.”