NCAN Conference Series: Building Student Awareness and Business Connections

This is the second in a series of four blog posts from the National College Access Network (NCAN) Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on September 15—17, 2014. These posts summarize findings from selected presentations at the NCAN Conference that provide concrete, actionable recommendations for practitioners on the following topics: increasing student awareness of “college match”; increasing STEM awareness and connecting with local businesses; structuring internships to prepare students for the workforce; and supporting first-generation college students.

Incorporating STEM into students’ high school experience holds promise for providing awareness of and exposure to high-demand, high-skill, and high-wage careers. However, schools and districts often struggle with how to incorporate STEM opportunities or programs. One school district in Yakima County, Washington, shared an innovative approach that marshaled local businesses and local career and technical education (CTE) resources to provide students with an “inside look” at local companies and industries, including:

  • Required STEM skills for employment
  • Required education for employment
  • Various types of jobs within a given company
  • A sense of the daily work life and culture of the company

A small team of three video production CTE students produced a three to five minute video for each of eight local companies, including GE and Treetop. These videos showcased the capabilities of high school students, provided initial entry into and connections with local STEM-related businesses, and offered a way for students across the district and region to begin to explore local STEM careers. The presenters emphasized that this is an important first step in the district’s larger STEM initiative. They are working on creating lesson plans to accompany the videos and extend students’ career knowledge.

Clarisse Haxton is a Senior Researcher with the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at AIR.

Photo credit: Flickr

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