CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — For the third consecutive 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 the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board and its CareerFORCE program. Seventeen students were able to explore their desired careers with local community partners, including Alfero Company Inc.; the Boys & Girls Club of Easton; the Easton Area Community Center; the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor; and the Sigal Museum.
“It’s exciting to see this program thrive from year to year,” said Sean Kelly, E3 program coordinator at Penn State Lehigh Valley. “The real-world work experience for high school students is priceless and helps set them up for success. 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 learned about confidence. In my summer job, I got to meet new people every day and now I’m not afraid to meet people and talk to them,” said Zalymar Cabrera, a rising senior at Easton Area High School who worked at the Sigal Museum.
For Dahjmir DeRohn, another rising senior at Easton Area High School, the experience taught him the value of earning money.
“I worked in a leadership program at the Boys & Girls Club of Easton. I wound up working two jobs this summer and found that working is fun and I really enjoy earning money,” said DeRohn, who aspires to be a police officer.
Melanie Lanier teaches business at Easton Area High School, and joined E3 this year as a faculty member to co-teach in the one-week employability skills workshop.
“My advice for any students thinking about doing E3 next year is try it," Lanier said. "So many students this year weren’t sure in the beginning, but they succeeded. This is more than a summer job; it prepares them for future jobs. Take the opportunity!”
One employer, the Boys & Girls Club of Easton, hired seven E3 students this summer.
“We allowed young people to be engaged and take charge in their roles," said Dean Young, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Easton. "We focused on the academic piece too, by including them on visits to college campuses. Having an opportunity like this gives these students a leg up in the future."
The E3 program culminated in a showcase at Easton Area High School on Aug. 15, where the students shared their summer experiences in the workforce.