Junior Achievement’s (JA) mission is to empower young people to own their economic success. A new initiative spearheaded by Junior Achievement of Southwest New England in partnership with Chris Edge, the Director of Economic Development for Berlin, CT, and Berlin High School, JA Pathways to Careers lays the foundations for career success. Drawing on existing Junior Achievement programming, including JA Career Ready, Job Shadow, and Career Inspirations, the program tailors the various curricula to the needs of Berlin schools. In an effort to better prepare students for the future workforce, 9th-grade students receive a workshop on resume writing and a career panel; 10th-grade students learn about personal branding; and 11th-grade students participates in an interviewing skills workshop. The program culminates in Job Shadows and a Career Walk for 11th– and 12th-grade students. Through the sequential stages of JA Pathways to Careers, students gain an understanding of the necessity of soft and interpersonal skills through hands-on activities and direct interactions with volunteers and mentors, both in and out of the school environment. The new Pathways program will better prepare these high school students to be competitive in the 21st century global marketplace.
The program launched officially on November 1, 2017 at Berlin High School with a workshop on Interviewing Skills provided to all 11th-grade students. Local volunteers from the Berlin business community donated their time and expertise to lead these sessions, allowing students to interact with and learn from entrepreneurs in industries from real estate to manufacturing to aerospace.
“It was a great experience being able to give the students some insight on interviewing skills,” said community volunteer Marc Bayram, the head golf professional at Timberlin Golf in Berlin. “It was not too long ago that I was in their shoes and did not really know what my future had in store. With the help of Junior Achievement, the students of Berlin High will be prepared for life after graduation. I tried to stress the importance of paying your dues and working your way into a successful career when school ends.” Mr. Bayram went on to emphasize that, “rarely in life are things just handed to you, and it is critical to possess a strong work ethic and interpersonal skills, as having those skills will help their futures”.
Volunteers delivered programming to 233 students across 15 classrooms. The community volunteers first shared their personal backgrounds in school and business before leading a discussion of concepts such as employer expectations, job interviews, and job retention. The students then had an opportunity to practice their newfound skills with peer-to-peer mock interviews.
“As a proud BHS alum,” said Jeremy Race, JA President and CEO, “I’m thrilled to see this program come to fruition. I believe students need to explore various careers at a young age and learn the importance of soft skills as they relate to success in the workplace. It’s a testament to this community that so many businesses stepped up to facilitate this program in the school and host students on-site at their workplace later this spring.”
A recent Harris poll found that 77% of employers value soft skills as much as hard skills. And a study conducted by Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford found that 85% of success at a job is assessed from having strong soft- and people-skills. Only 15% comes from technical skills. In today’s competitive career marketplace, imparting soft skills at an early age to students is fundamental to their success. As students begin to plan for their future beyond high school, participants in the Pathways to Success experience will develop the soft skills necessary to transition from school to college, to technical school, or directly into the workforce.
In the coming school year JA seeks to reach over 700 Berlin High School students. If you would like to find out more information about Pathways to Careers, other specialty programs, JA offers, or how you can make a difference in a student’s life by volunteering, please contact President and CEO, Jeremy Race at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-525-4510 ex 224. Any support you provide to Junior Achievement will help us get closer to our goal of reaching 50,000 students by 2020.