With many problems to be solved in today’s society, leaders of a local nonprofit believe solutions can be found in real-world career perspectives provided to local youth in their classrooms.
Segue Career Mentors, a charitable effort headquartered in Ventura, brings career speakers into local classrooms and generates workplace invitations for student internships, job shadows and workplace tours.
“OUR ECONOMY IS ALL BUT CRYING FOR STUDENTS THAT ARE EAGER AND INTERESTED IN BEING PRODUCTIVE IN THE WORKPLACE,” SAYS JERRY BECKERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF SEGUE CAREER MENTORS.
National studies, such as Harvard University’s Pathways to Prosperity, and its top finding, note that a foundational requirement for student academic and career success is exposure to career options. The highly respected McKinsey and Co. found similar lessons.
For youth, career exposures lead to seeing an increased relevance of school and motivation to do well. Such exposures can also lead to academic success, “a new life understanding” and development of skills, such as practice initiative and perseverance that support future career accomplishments, Beckerman says.
While students may be exposed to these skill concepts by their teachers, the understanding of these ideas is greatly enhanced when Segue speakers share with young people their specific stories from their careers about how these skills generated success.
“When a student has an interest in pursuing a career that appeals to them, it increases the relevance of school to them which in turn drives them…to work harder, get better grades and overall begin to genuinely focus on their future and what they can do now to support their future success,” Beckerman says.
As is well known, the workforce benefits from students that understand the nature of work and the value of putting in their best efforts. This impact is also seen on many levels: Mental health is increased as citizens find satisfying work, welfare is reduced as citizens become productive and self-sufficient, and the next generation of children are raised in happier more supportive households.
“The list goes on…and all these benefits begin with the education of our young people,” Beckerman says.
Over the years, Segue’s speakers have visited with students at local schools, including Ventura High, Pacifica High in Oxnard, Pacific High in Ventura, Hueneme High in Port Hueneme and Channel Islands High in Oxnard.
The speakers focus on two key areas: career awareness and success skills. Speakers generally come from the STEM field, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, and CTE (career technical education) including everything from health care workers to construction trades.
“Each speaker spends about 90 minutes on campus, 20 minutes in each of three classrooms, and thereby reaches upwards of 100 students,” Beckerman explains. “When 50 speakers speak at a school, the impact at that one school is 5,000 student career exposures!” To date, Segue has produced over 85,000 Student Career Exposures (SCEs) for local students.
Students who have heard Segue speakers say the mentors motivate them to get good grades, expose them to career options, and help them determine which classes to take for their future vocations.
Segue speakers also benefit. Mentors enjoy helping students reach their full potential and assisting youth make decisions that will increase the likelihood of their success.
Teachers who host Segue Career Mentors in the classroom say students learn many important factors, including that long-term goals are achievable and what it takes to get ready for real life.
“Segue’s contributions to Ventura County’s students over the years have inspired thousands,” Tiffany Morse, director of career education for the Ventura County Office of Education, wrote in a letter to Beckerman in 2015.
And in 2010, Stanley Mantooth, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools, wrote, “We, as educators, know that inspired and motivated students achieve more academically, work harder in school, drop out in fewer numbers, attend school more regularly, and are less likely to join gangs or exhibit violent or aberrant behaviors,” Mantooth states. “The entire community can benefit from the more focused and motivated students who will come out of the Segue experience.”
While many classrooms and organizations provide some form of in-class speakers, Segue focuses exclusively on classroom career mentor speakers.
“The beauty of Segue is that it’s not disruptive to any existing programs, and this adds to students’ overall knowledge of the real world of work, which in turn can increase their inspiration,” says Beckerman.
For more information, visit SegueProgram.org/.