(Rome, Me.) When was the last time you updated your resume? Did you include skills like problem-solving, critical-thinking and communication? According to a study conducted by LinkedIn in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, those are exactly the types of skills and attributes we should all be highlighting if we want to stand out in a job search. This week at Pine Tree Camp in Rome, about 180 middle school and high school students from across the state gathered for JMG’s annual Leadership Education Conference (LEC). The Conference is an overnight intensive that gives students the unique opportunity to learn those soft skills employers are looking for.
Robbie Clark is an 8th grader at Winslow Middle School. He said, “When we’re at school, we’re usually working by ourselves or with our close friends. But, here at LEC you have to work with kids from all over that you’ve never met before. We have to work together to solve problems and meet deadlines. It challenges us.”
The conference, held from October 18 – 21, includes a series of hands-on activities that require students to practice their communication, time management, and teamwork skills. For example, the Army National Guard was on hand teaching them how to build emergency shelters. The students had to take some very basic materials, a few instructions, and work together to build a functional shelter in a certain amount of time. Chances are relatively few of these students will ever need to build a shelter, but the soft careers skills they’re honing will come in handy throughout their lives.
Ryan Moore, Vice President at Bank of America in Belfast, is a volunteer at LEC. Moore says, “This type of student event gives these young people the chance to get out of the classroom and offers them the opportunity to practice skills that are in high demand in the job market.”
Along with the skill-building activities, the theme of the conference was “grit”. Students learned about the importance of this combination of passion and perseverance. “Getting to share my ideas about grit was my favorite part of LEC,” says Jamila Jama, an 8th grader from Lewiston Middle School. “For me it’s about giving myself the chance to try something and fail, and try again, until I can do it. JMG is the only class where I’ve actually been encouraged to fail in order to learn.”
JMG is a statewide, private nonprofit working with 6,500 students who face barriers to education. JMG partners with public education and private businesses to offer results-driven solutions to ensure all Maine students graduate, attain post-secondary education, and pursue meaningful careers. JMG is the only nonprofit in Maine offering a continuum of support from middle school through college degree attainment.