CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — For the second year, rising seniors from Easton Area High School were given the opportunity to gain real-world work experience in the Lehigh Valley.
The Easton Employability Experience (E3) is a grant-funded program brought about by a partnership between Penn State Lehigh Valley, Easton Area School District and PA CareerLink. Twenty-six students were able to explore their desired careers with local community partners including Alfero Company, Inc., Boys and Girls Club of Easton, Easton Area Community Center, Merchants Bank, Pearly Baker’s Ale House, Third Street Alliance and YMCA Easton. Every student had to meet GPA, attendance and need-based qualifications in order to participate.
“It’s exciting to see this program grow from last year to this year,” said Doug Antonioli, director of the Lehigh Valley Writing Project at Penn State Lehigh Valley. ““The real-world work experience for high school students is invaluable. We hope to continue securing grant funding and working with our partners to make this program available for years to come.”
The E3 program began with a one-week employability skills workshop where the students learned about resume writing, time management and conflict resolution. For the following six weeks, students gained work experience and mentoring from their job coaches.
“I’ve never had a job before, so once my accounting teacher, Ms. Pels, told me about the opportunity I knew I wanted to do it,” said Simranjit Singh, rising senior at Easton Area High School. “I want to pursue a career in finance, so gaining experience from Merchants Bank was rewarding and enjoyable.”
For Bonnie Prough, rising senior at Easton Area High School, the experience reassured her of her career choice. Prough worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Easton in their library with the program director. She helped with lesson planning and chaperoning, among other duties.
“This program allowed me to see where I could end up. I always imagined a career in education and now I know I want that after my experience,” said Prough. “I’m so grateful for Mr. Dean Young of the Boys and Girls Club for opening his doors to us for this program.”
Mary Ann McKinney, Easton Employability Experience job coach, has been a part of this program for the past two years.
“We have had awesome students. By the end of the program, they see that they do have marketable skills. It's amazing that in just six weeks they go from being nervous and unsure of themselves to confident young adults,” said McKinney.
The Easton Employability Experience culminated in a showcase at Easton Area High School on Aug. 16, where the students shared their summer experiences in the work force.