Career Connections Program Prepares Students for Employment

Leah is a senior at Asbury Park High School, and without the Career Connections program, she believes she wouldn’t have a job. When Leah turned 17, she knew that in order to be able to get her own car, she would have to pay for car insurance and other bills—so she started applying for jobs. “I filled out six applications, and I got nowhere,” said Leah. Then she heard about Career Connections.

Based at Asbury Park High School, Career Connections is a partnership among United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, the Asbury Park School District, Center for Vocational Rehabilitation (CVR) and The SPOT, a school-based youth services program. The program began in 2011 and has continued to grow thanks to the collaborative efforts led by our United Way. Students learn employment and life skills, resume building, interview tips and how to dress for success in order to develop career pathways and gain employment. The Career Connections Coordinator Katherine Bunton helps students graduate with the skills they need to be successful.

Leah credits her employment at Staples for nearly two years to the support Ms. Bunton gave her: “She helped me with what to wear to the interview, certain questions to ask and not ask, what to wear at the job, and with my resume. One of the reasons I got this job was because they were surprised I had a resume at my age.” Leah listened to Ms. Bunton’s advice and wore a blouse and dress pants instead of jeans to her interview at Staples, which certainly paid off. “For other interviews I never dressed how I did for this job, and now I’m here,” said Leah.

Working in the Copy and Print Center is a challenging first job for a teenager, but it’s one that Leah hopes will prepare her for a future career in nursing: “This is good experience for working in a doctor’s office; I’ve learned things like how to manage my time.” When she’s not working at Staples, Leah maintains a GPA that is above 3.0 and is a star track athlete who won MVP for the fourth year in a row and qualified for the state competition. Until she hears from one of the ten colleges she applied to, she’s happy to be making a decent salary at a job she enjoys.