BANGOR, Maine — In June, 11 area youth began the road trip of a lifetime. They may not have travelled many miles, but they did go far as participants in the first year of Eastern Maine Development Corporation’s workforce development program Career Compass, which celebrated with a graduation style event on Oct. 3.
Career Compass is part of the EMDC Workforce Investment Act youth program, funded by the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board, and serves economically disadvantaged youth ages 16 to 21 from Penobscot, Piscataquis and Hancock counties. The program provides young people with a variety of services such as occupational skill training, work readiness, basic skills remediation, and work experience with local businesses and organizations.
Career Compass also incorporates a nationally recognized curriculum called RoadTrip Nation which focuses on self-awareness, self-reflection and career exploration.
The 12-week Career Compass program, which blends employability training, guest speakers, career exploration and third party certifications with work experiences with local employers, was designed to create employable, experienced, career conscious youth. Each youth is assigned an EMDC career adviser who assists the young people in pursuing their goals and helps them take control of their future.
“My experience with Career Compass was the best. I met some really good friends. I learned who I was, and what my quality and potential is. I also learned to speak up for myself. I really learned to step out of my comfort zone,” student participant Gabrielle Cameron said during the celebration.
An important part of the Career Compass experience included eight weeks of work experience for each student. EMDC worked with a number of area businesses who agreed to mentor the students for 20-25 hours per week. Partner businesses were WS Emerson, Penobscot Theatre Company, the town of Brownville, the city of Bangor, Carden Kennels, Seasons Restaurant, Main Street Music Studios, the Bangor Y, Hibbards Nursing Home, EMDC and the Brewer Police Department.
“These students feel an incredible sense of pride for what they have accomplished,” Youth Program Coordinator Denise Smith said. “Not only are they leaving with skills they have developed for the workforce, they have the beginning of a professional portfolio that includes a professional resume, letter of recommendation, certifications and evaluations from their supervisors.”
For information on Career Compass and other youth programs through EMDC please visit emdc.org or visit an EMDC office located at the Bangor CareerCenter, Ellsworth Mill Mall and Piscataquis and East Millinocket Higher Education Centers.