More than 100 high school students considered at-risk for dropping out of school joined with 57 volunteers from the business community on May 14 for the Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates Career Development Conference at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.
The students took part in 11 competitive events to demonstrate their employability and leadership skills. The competitions included public speaking, team problem solving, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and video marketing. The volunteers from the business community served as judges for the events.
The event was produced by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which runs the Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates program.
“The students who participate in ‘Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates’ don’t often receive accolades for their accomplishments,” Donna Custard, president of the Foundation, said. “This event gives them a chance to compete and win awards in the workforce skills they have been developing throughout the academic year.”
The students at the conference come from nine programs that participate in the Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates initiative. Partnering organizations include six schools and one nonprofit organization in Newark, Camden, Carteret, New Brunswick and Vineland.
Participating students, chosen by teachers and guidance counselors, take an elective school course in which they study leadership and employment skills. In addition, they receive academic support, access to inspiring guest speakers, tours of local businesses and mentoring as they consider pursuing post-secondary education or a career. Students also have the opportunity to attend statewide and national conferences where they befriend and compete with program participants from all over the nation. Graduates of the program continue to receive support for 12 months after high school graduation to help them as they transition into college or a career.
PNC Bank was the event’s premier sponsor and Investors Bank Foundation made a $50,000 contribution at the event in support of Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates.