New Haven Promise is not the only initiative working to help New Haven’s disadvantaged youth achieve success.
The New Haven Job Corps Center has expanded its usual career fairs program to include “Career Week,” a program that teaches students how to promote themselves to potential employers. In an attempt to offer practical vocational training to young adults between the ages of 16 to 24, the New Haven Job Corps Center is targeting a similar demographic as New Haven Promise. The two career centers are looking into possible cooperation as a means to grant local New Haven students easier access to educational resources.
“I believe New Haven Promise accomplishes a similar unifying aim on a far, far grander scale,” Josiah Leighton ’00, the academics manager of the New Haven Job Corps, said.
Barbara Sandstrom, center director, has expressed hopes of finding the right people to open discussion of possible cooperation in the future.
“Our goals are to help young adults become ready for the workforce through training and education,” said Sandstrom in an e-mail. “We approach our mission holistically, as learning a technical skill is only the beginning,” she added.
The New Haven Job Corps held “Career Week” for a group of 140 young adults as an increased effort to help New Haven’s youths market themselves. The center kicked off Career Week on Monday with a career transition open house, which introduced the students to the career services available at the center. The program continued with a fashion show of business attire on Tuesday, mock interviews with their local employers such as Barbara Green from the Area Cooperative Educational Services High School in Hamden, Conn., and finally culminated in a mock business luncheon.
“This week’s biggest achievement was having our students understand and experience the importance of being a total package when looking for employment,” Sandstrom said, “Modeling, mentoring and monitoring is part of that learning process.”
Nekeisha Jones, the outreach & admission & career transition services manager, attributes the impetus of the new program to the grim economy.
“We’ve had job fairs for the last two years, but due to the economy, its a little more difficult for individuals to gain employment,” Jones said. “Career Week … is more comprehensive.”
Founded in 1996, the New Haven Job Corps Center is the local branch of a federally funded initiative to provide a holistic career development training free of charge to at-risk youth. It is the nation’s largest residential, educational and vocational training program for economically disadvantaged youth, said Renee Venturino, executive assistant to center director. The New Haven branch currently houses 134 youth and provides its services to 57 non-residential participants as well.
Apart from vocational training, the New Haven Job Corps also features an academics department. Although many students enter with a high school diploma, the center also provides students with the opportunity to work on their trade and work towards a GED and beyond, said Roberta Travers, college training coordinator.
Jones said she thinks youth services are extremely important.
“During those early adult years, if students have their ambition set on career goals or post-secondary education, they are more likely to be successful,” Jones said.
Some students who attended “Career Week” expressed positve reviews of the program.
“Students really benefited from Career Week. Some students really don’t know what they should wear, and the fashion show, the whole week, really set the bar for students to learn what they should and should not when they market themselves for a job,” said Letara Brown, a student at the center who participated in Career Week and helped backstage during the fashion show.
The New Haven Job Corps Center is located at 455 Wintergreen Ave.