2018 Sophomore Summit

Sophomore Summit participants headed to one of several employer locations to learn more about local career pathways.

2018 Sophomore Summit: Connecting Students to Community, Continuing Education, and Careers

Brattleboro, VT. On April 11th over 200 high school sophomores from across Windham County participated in the Sophomore Summit, the largest career awareness, exploration, and planning event of the year. With over 60 different employers and organizations represented, students were able to see the variety of opportunity in their own backyards and the pathways to get there.

Students from Brattleboro Union, Bellows Falls Union, Leland and Gray, Twin Valley, Kindle Farm, St. Michaels, and The Compass School attended three 50-minute panels based on their interests, aptitudes, and professional aspirations. Panelists ranged from Frank the Welder in Bellows Falls, who makes custom bicycle frames, to Randy Capitani from the Deerfield Valley News in West Dover. Artists, culinary experts, law enforcement and public safety officials, and medical professionals were all featured.

The event started and ended in the Latchis Theater in downtown Brattleboro. Panels were held at several nearby locations including the Vermont Technical College Brooks House Campus, the office of the Stevens & Associates engineering and design firm, the Boys and Girls Club, Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center, and the Brattleboro Coop. Event organizers, which include the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), Youth Services, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, and the four participating supervisory unions, all agreed the event was a success.

The keynote presentation was delivered by Tom Cheney, Director of 70x2025vt, a statewide initiative promoting continuing education after high school. Focusing on the often-indirect path that leads to successful careers, his presentation emphasized strong employability skills, effective career and education planning, and the benefits of networking within students’ own communities.

The day-long Summit is designed to help students better understand career options and the pathways to reach them. For some the event provided insight into careers they are already attracted to: “I learned that owning your own restaurant is not as easy as it seems,” said one participant. Many students who are undecided about a career path appreciated the diverse perspectives at the Summit: “I learned that most people did not know what they want to do when they grow up. They know the ballpark, but they usually come across a job they really enjoy as they are exploring.”  Students praised the value of hearing directly about options available to them, and the encouragement to keep growing: “I learned that there are many branches to a job…and that you are never stuck with a job, you can always change your mind.”

The event was supported by the BDCC’s Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence in partnership with the McClure Foundation and the Vermont Department of Labor.

The Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence is a program of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) which offers an employer-driven system of Workforce and Education partners aligned behind grassroots workforce development strategies that will increase the size and quality of the workforce, higher median household incomes. It was created through the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) comprehensive planning CEDS process, which engaged residents, employers, and municipalities throughout the Windham Region. The vision of the Centeris that every Vermonter in Windham County has access to the education, training, and support needed to access meaningful, livable wage careers, so that no good job goes unfilled.