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Valencia County employers talk career exploration with area students

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Valencia

In March, 400 students from Los Lunas and Belen high schools as well as the School of Dreams Academy participated in career exploration events through an effort coordinated by the Mission: Graduate Valencia County Career Exploration Team. 

Presenters from 13 different businesses talked to students about the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for success and gave tips on resume writing and interviewing during mock interviews. Students also learned about the types of jobs available in Valencia County. 

At the Los Lunas schools, presentations and mock interviews were coordinated through the school’s advisory classes and spread out over two weeks. In Belen, the Mission: Graduate team collaborated on the existing career fair at Infinity High (and included Belen High students) and added employer presentations and mock interviews as well as tips on health and safety in the workplace and cyber security.

At Mission: Graduate we know that career readiness activities help students make the connection between their classroom work and what’s required to be successful in the workforce,” says Teri Wimborne, Mission: Graduate’s Director of Collective Impact. “Additionally, career exploration experiences can encourage students to stay engaged in school, a key strategy in Mission: Graduate’s overall effort to increase high school and college graduation rates."

The idea to help students gain “professionalism” skills came from a community forum held last fall at the University of New Mexico Valencia Campus, in which employers, educators, and community members came together to build a common understanding of the issues and possible solutions.

These events are the first step toward expanding these partnerships in order to grow the opportunities for students to include site visits, job shadows, and internships.

It was so nice to come out and engage with the younger community. I think that this is a great initiative and I look forward to continue supporting this effort,” says Mara Murillo of the Clariant Corporation. “If you can give young minds exposure to the real world, you can increase their opportunity to thrive in it.”

While results from student surveys are still being collected, early results show that students valued participating in the mock interviews and are very interested in internships. One student was happy to learn that "there are so many opportunities for jobs instead of working at a fast food place.”

The effort was made possible thanks to volunteers from the following companies and organizations: Adelante Consulting, Ageless Living, Aristech, Belen Consolidated Schools,  Buffalo Wild Wings, CEMCO, Clariant Corporation, Cupertino Electric, Facebook, Fortis Construction,  Los Lunas Schools, McLeod Lifestep, Mission: Graduate/United Way of Central New Mexico, Mountain States Construction, New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico Workforce Connection Central Region, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, Paradigm Physical Therapy, Rio Communities, Security Ironworks,  TCM Mechanics, and University of New Mexico Valencia Campus.

To learn more about Valencia County’s Career Exploration Initiative, contact Teri Wimborne at teri.wimborne@uwcnm.org.

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