‘Navigators’ Works with Mentorship Programs

YOUNGSTOWN – With field trips and in-person events postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts are challenged to bring career exploration opportunities to their students.

In an effort to provide those opportunities virtually, The Business Journal launched its Brain Gain Navigators program in February. The newspaper is coordinating with area mentorship programs, including the United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley’s Young Women’s Mentorship Program, Inspiring Minds in Warren, YWCA Mahoning Valley, YMCA of Youngstown and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Youngstown. 

Working with our Brain Gain Coalition of sponsors, The Business Journal has also formed strategic partnerships with Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley and the Mahoning County Educational Service Center to drive virtual tour attendance from area school students. 

“Brain Gain is all about raising awareness of local career pathways to the next generation’s workforce, to show our best and brightest there are plenty of ways to make a comfortable living locally,” says Jeremy Lydic, content manager for The Business Journal. “We wanted to give students and their mentors a snapshot of what we’ve found is in strong demand in the area, and what it takes to work those jobs.”

The first Navigators event on Feb. 17 focused on the auto tech trade, featuring Sweeney Chevrolet in Boardman and the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center. The event was hosted using Junior Achievement’s JA Inspire Virtual platform, which students and their mentors can access from any device with internet. 

“We are excited JA Inspire Virtual will now be part of the Business Journal Brain Gain Navigators program. On-demand virtual tours with local employers covering a wide range of industries will give more students the best possible snapshot of career pathways and job outlooks right here,” says Michele Merkel, Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley president.

The JA Inspire Virtual platform provides students an opportunity to learn about careers from local businesses, colleges, institutes, apprenticeship programs, trade schools and internships. “Once a student is inspired, they can gather the information they need to achieve their goals,” she says. It provides exploration opportunities for students who can’t participate in live tours, pandemic or not.

Students who attended the first event watched a video tour of Sweeney and MCCTC that was filmed and produced by The Business Journal. In the video, MCCTC students and principal Matt Campbell discussed the auto tech program there and what incoming enrollees can expect to learn.

After the video, students had the opportunity to speak with Sweeney’s shop foreman, Nick Deniakis, and MCCTC Superintendent John Zehentbauer.

Going forward, following each Navigators event, The Business Journal will host a virtual follow-up conversation with some of the mentorship group students who participated. Feedback from those conversations will be presented in feature-length articles published monthly in The Business Journal. The story and video interviews will also be published to BusinessJournalDaily.com.

If you would like to register your mentorship group for future Navigators events, contact Jeremy Lydic at jlydic@business-journal.com. The Business Journal plans to organize 10 throughout the year. Videos from all events will be available on-demand on the JA Inspire platform.

Pictured: MCCTC student Jonathon Figley working on a motor in the Auto Tech lab.