Trekkers, a local youth mentoring organization, will be launching a new School To Career program for 11th and 12th-grade students starting this fall.

This 12-week pilot program will help students discover career interests through internships within the local community. The goal of this initiative is to better prepare young people from Midcoast Maine for the next step in connecting their school experience to work. This project, which will include the addition of a new part-time staff member, is made possible by a gift from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc.

In Maine, only 28.9 percent of students graduate from college in four years and about half of the students who start college do not finish. Although there are many reasons for such a low percentage, Trekkers has discovered that many of its students who do enter college are unclear about what they want to study. Trekkers has also witnessed that students who forgo college to go straight into the local workforce are more focused on finding a job than starting a career. In light of what has been discovered during the past 19 years, the importance of a School To Career program will help students be better prepared in choosing a college option or seeking a particular career path. It is the hope that this program will help students discover what they are passionate about during high school so they are more successful in making their future goals a reality.

Expanding on the need for the program, Trekkers Executive Director, Don Carpenter said, “Providing this type of opportunity to our students is long overdue. We’ve been looking for a way to bridge the growing gap between school to career for students for a very long time and with the help of the Leon Lowenstein Foundation we now have a chance to make this happen. Our plan is to start small, build the program for success and have faith that the momentum that is created by this project will help it be funded for years to come. I would love for anyone who would like to join us in this effort to please give me a call.”

During the first three weeks of the Trekkers School To Career program, students will learn topics such as preparing a resume, effective communication on the job, skills assessment and understanding professional expectations in the workplace. Placement for the internship experiences will be selected based on each student’s chosen career interest. Once placed, students will complete a six-week, on-the-job internship at a business, non-profit organization, or government agency in the local area.

In the final three weeks of the program, students will put a personal learning plan in place and review the specific skills necessary to enter the student’s chosen job or career. No matter their path of choice, this program will give them skills to be successful in the process. After completing the 12 weeks, students will be paid a stipend for their time and involvement in the School To Career program.

To develop the School To Career program, Trekkers will be adding a half-time internship coordinator position for one year. The coordinator will be responsible for developing curriculum, recruiting prospective employers to participate in the internships, recruiting students, and coordinating the program. A complete job description is available at idealist.org.

Trekkers is half way into a six-year expansion plan that will nearly double the amount of students from the communities of Cushing, Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head and St. George that can participate in this unique youth mentoring program. As the expansion continues, Trekkers continues to strengthen and enhance its relationships with the community by connecting students with caring adults. The School To Career program is a perfect way to make this connection.