BERLIN - Berlin High School students are getting a taste of some job-ready skills this year with the help of the Junior Achievement Pathways to Careers program.
Junior Achievement, an organization headed by a Berlin High School alumnus, aims to prepare students for the working world through teaching hands-on activities and direct interactions with volunteers and mentors, both in and out of the school environment.
Its Pathways to Careers program, which aims to help students with career success, was brought to the high school in partnership with Chris Edge, economic development director for the town.
“I wanted to find a way to get businesses engaged with students in both an educational and informational way, but also to get students aware of employment opportunities here in Berlin,” said Edge.
A four-year college path is not right for everyone, he added, and the program allows students to become more familiar with other careers.
The Hartford-based JA reaches 4.6 million students per year in 112 United States markets, and 5.6 million in 121 other countries, according to a release.
The program launched on Nov. 1, 2017, at BHS with a workshop on interviewing skills provided to all 11th-grade students, according to Nicole Diorio, director of education and specialty programs at Junior Achievement.
Volunteers from Berlin businesses donated time and expertise to lead the sessions, allowing students to interact with and learn from entrepreneurs in industries from real estate to manufacturing to aerospace.
Volunteers ultimately 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.
“It was a great experience being able to give the students some insight on interviewing skills,” said Marc Bayram, head golf professional at Timberlin Golf Course in Berlin.
He stressed the importance of paying dues, working hard and realizing nothing is handed out to his students, saying, “It was not too long ago that I was in their shoes and did not really know what my future had in store.”
As part of the JA Pathways to Careers Program, which continues throughout the year, ninth-grade students will receive a workshop on resume writing and a career panel discussion. Tenth-grade students will learn about personal branding.
For 11th- and 12th-graders, the program culminates in the Job Shadow program, in which students will visit a business to learn how each department works together and see the variety of different careers that are available.
They will also participate in a Career Walk, in which they will visit three or four businesses in five hours in a concentrated downtown district.
Seniors, mostly, will also participate in the Career Inspiration program, in which they will hear example of career paths from business leaders in the community.
In the coming school year, JA seeks to reach over 700 Berlin High School students, and by 2020, 50,000 students.
The program is looking to continue so that each grade goes through each separate portion of the program by graduation, said Diorio.
“Students are able to take their classroom learning and apply it to new experiences in the real world,” said interim Berlin High School Vice Principal Barbara Ventura. “Junior Achievement allows students to synthesize, conceptualize, and connect to new meaningful endeavors.”
“As a proud BHS alum, I’m thrilled to see this program come to fruition,” said Jeremy Race, JA president and CEO, in a release.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.