YES Academy Prepares Future Workforce
More than 115 high school students spent their February break in the classroom preparing for jobs in various industries thanks to ReadyCT.
The CBIA affiliate welcomed students from Hartford and Weaver Public High Schools and Pathways Academy of Technology and Design for its Youth Employability Skills Academy.
YES Academy, which runs during school breaks each year, featured lessons including resume crafting, team building exercises, and networking.
Hartford HealthCare and manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, as well as other businesses in the community, sponsored programs throughout the week.
Senior Jonathan Rosado said he registers for YES Academy every year.
“Whenever YES Academy comes up I always sign up, because it’s always a learning experience,” Rosado said.
The program itself is evolving also. What started as a small initiative almost 20 years ago has expanded in recent years, said Betsy Caraballo, ReadyCT allied health career pathway program manager.
“With the increase in pathways and the increase in schools and districts we work with, the YES Academy has grown,” she said.
February’s YES Academy featured five career pathways for students to choose from, up from just one several years ago.
Students learned about careers in insurance and finance, journalism and media, allied health, engineering and green technology, and IT.
“We want to make sure our students are successful. That’s the end goal of it,” Caraballo said.
Each pathway featured different courses during the week designed for that sector.
In the engineering and green technology pathway, students did mock interviews with employees from Pratt & Whitney.
It gave students the chance to learn and ask questions about the interview process, and get advice before they start actual interviews in a couple of weeks.
“You have to have confidence, you have to maintain eye contact, and you have to be clear,” junior Amir Cousin said.
He found the mock interviews to be the most valuable course he took, and hopes to intern with them soon.
In the allied health pathway, Hartford HealthCare sponsored and led certifications in programs including CPR and Stop the Bleed, which teach students to intervene effectively in life-threatening situations.
Both companies are hiring students for internships this spring.
“It gives students a leg up,” Caraballo said.
Breaking the Cycle
For some, YES Academy is about more than getting an internship.
“We have this cohort of students at the school that want to go to college or have a career in manufacturing or engineering,” ReadyCT engineering and green technology career pathway program manager Chris Venable said.
The program helps give them the confidence and support they need to follow the track they choose.
“It will allow them to be self-sufficient, to get out of cycles of poverty, generational poverty,” Venable said.
For some students, they may be the first in their family to go to college.
“They’re really excited about it,” Venable said.
“You always have to build to develop yourself,” said one student in Venable’s pathway.
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