Career Explorers

Summer Youth Employment Program

Program History

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Since 1996, EmPOWERment, Inc. has promoted a new model of community development that helps neighborhoods organize for greater self-determination while making a real impact in people’s lives. One product of this mission is the Career Explorers program, whose primary purpose is to offer youth, ages 16 to 21, from low income neighborhoods and public housing an opportunity to discover valuable career and life skills.

The program began in 2003 when EmPOWERment Inc. identified one of the problems hindering our youth as a lack of opportunities after high school. In a county-wide youth summit the same year, young people vocalized concern about lack of jobs.  EmPOWERment, Inc. approached local business owners with the idea of hiring youth with little or no experience and working with them as interns throughout the summer.

Community business partners agreed to create a paid intern position and provide the program participants with valuable work experience while pulling from a local job pool and impacting the life of a teenager.

The first year of the program EmPOWERment was able to pair five Interns with community partners. With each ensuing year, the program has grown and developed.  As of the summer of 2014 the Career Explorers program has created over 100 jobs for youth in the community.

How It Works

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As full time employees, Career Explorers spend 36 hours a week on site with their employer and 4 hours per week with the Career Explorer program administrators.  During these four hours, students are able to share their experiences, ask questions and participate in valuable workshops that represent a variety of life skills, to include: financial literacy, budgeting and saving money, employment and personal etiquette, leadership development, civic awareness, writing a resume, and conflict resolution. These four hour sessions take place on Fridays and consist of presentations from experienced guest speakers and tours of local businesses.

Past Partners

  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • The Arts Center
  • The Lumina Theater
  • The Friday Center
  • Orange Water and Sewer Authorities
  • Chapel Hill – Carrboro Chamber of Commerce
  • Town of Chapel Hill
  • WCHL Radio
  • Operation New Life Daycare Center

We are proud to say that every summer since the program began, at least one Career Explorer has been offered a permanent position or requested the following summer by their employer.

Not only do we provide jobs, but we also provide a great foundation for students entering the workforce. Our goal is that participants will gain valuable life and career experience throughout the program and beyond.

The program has ended for 2014, but please stay in touch for information about summer 2015. Applications are usually released late spring.

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