This spring Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) held their annual Career Development Conference at the Civic Center in Augusta. The event gives JAG students an opportunity to participate in competitive events and show case skills in leadership, career development and civic awareness. These are just a hand full of the skills the students work on throughout the year in the classroom and skills that tie directly to the mission of the JMG program.
The events at this years’ conference included public speaking,a mock interview and a teamwork exercise in which a miniature car was built using paper, tape and CDs, and then tested to see whose would do the best job of roll down a ramp smoothly. Seniors from the more than 50 high schools that comprise the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program met in Augusta to showcase their projects, and continue to cultivate skills like teamwork and communication with their peers from around the state. Emily Pullen, a senior remarked that “by staying away from bad influences and concentrating on work and education, young people can establish a positive course for their lives.” Without JMG many of the conference participants recognize that they most likely would not have part-time jobs, know how to compile resumes, fill out a job application, or even speak confidently in interview. In addition to the competitive events at the conference two students were presented with scholarships from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce: Jeffrey Maylin of Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale and Crispo Niyokwizerwa of Portland High School.
To kick off the conference this year Governor Paul LePage gave some opening remarks and said Jobs for Maine's Graduates is an “excellent investment”, thanks to the work of students, teachers and business volunteers. According to recent research, approximately 92 percent of JMG students graduate from high school in comparison to 83 percent of all students in publicly funded schools in 2010. The Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program works with 4,000 students in grades six through 12 who have been identified as having barriers to education. JMG also continues to work with them for a year post-high school to assist in the transition to the work force or to post-secondary education/training. JMG will expand to serve 4,500 students in the coming year according to CEO Craig Larrabee. Larrabee believes JMG is teaching the skills that business leaders communicated a need for workers to possess including goal-setting, decision-making, communication, organization and time management.
The annual CDC is a great event for students and gives them the opportunity to use the skills they have worked on all year in the classroom and a chance for them to interact with other JMG students from around the state. It’s a culmination of a year of hard work for the students and the job specialists and re-enforces the legitimacy of each of the Jobs for America’s Graduates programs.