Infusing career exploration into your youth mentoring program

Learn about career and workforce development ideas to infuse career exploration into your youth mentoring program.

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In the report “Mentoring: at the crossroads of education, business and community,” youth unemployment is one of the most pressing challenges facing society today. According to TED: The Economics Daily, in July 2019, 61.8% of 16- to 24-year-olds participated in the labor force. Through his work with the Search Institute, the late Peter Benson once said Nothing—nothing—has more impact in the life of a child than positive relationships.” According to Mentoring Impact from Mentor, “Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations.”

While providing support and fostering confidence and goals, mentors can easily work with mentees on career and workforce development as a part of their mentoring relationship. Here are four ideas Michigan State University Extension shares for infusing career exploration into youth mentoring programs.

  1. The MSU Extension Careers and Entrepreneurship page includes resources and materials for identifying your skill set, networking and job search, resumes and portfolios, and interviews.
  2. The MSU Extension article “Infuse career exploration into STEAM programming” shares several simple and short lessons including matching games.
  3. Practice your positive attitude, an important employability skill, shares a dice game idea from the Skills to Pay the Bills curriculum that would be a great lesson for any mentor mentee match to do together. We can all practice being positive!
  4. Apprenticeship 101 is a new curriculum that was released by MSU Extension in November 2019. It was the result of a grant project with partners Michigan Works! Macomb/St. Clair and Macomb Intermediate School District. Powtoon videos introduce each of the five lessons. Most of the materials are adaptable to online learning. The lessons build upon one another or can be used individually. They include: Apprenticeship Trivia, Resume Rescue, Which Industry Matches Your Personality? The Preparation Pyramid and Apprentice Interview Videos complete the list. Apprenticeship 101 emphasizes Michigan apprenticeship opportunities.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development helps to prepare young people for successful futures. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or youth entrepreneurship, email us at

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