Job recruiters are seeking out Philly’s graduating high school seniors

Students from Mastery Charter Schools met with recruiters from 25 organizations to learn more about the opportunities available after graduating.

Job recruiters speaking with students

Paige Montijo, program coordinator at Wesgold Fellows at VestedIn speaks to students. (Stephen Williams/WHYY)

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More than 200 seniors and alums of several Mastery Charter Schools got the opportunity to explore dozens of jobs and opportunities at a career fair at the African American Museum of Philadelphia in Center City.

Aramark, the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department, the School District of Philadelphia, the U.S. Armed Forces, health care companies and the city’s two casinos were just a handful of the two dozen companies looking to pick up talent.

Cristina Juarbe Santaliz, Mastery Charter Schools director of workforce development, said the school wants to ensure that students succeed after graduation, whether they attend college, seek apprenticeships or internships, or go into the workforce.

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“We have a multiple pathways approach, and we want to support them in any post-secondary decision that they make, so we want to provide them with access to opportunities for employment before they graduate,” Santiliz said.

Based in Philadelphia, Mastery Charter Schools operates 24 charter schools in the city and Camden, serving about 14,000 students. According to the recruiters, opportunities are plentiful.

Philadelphia School District recruiter Mark Whitmore pointed to the need for special education teachers, teacher aides and school building engineers, who operate and maintain heating, cooling and other mechanical systems.

The district has programs to help students get certified, offer salaries while learning, and pay for the necessary college degree.

According to the state government, Pennsylvania currently has 5,000 teacher vacancies that it cannot fill. These needs are dire in special education, science and math and underserved areas in communities of color.

“We want to educate people on the positions that we have,” Whitmore said. “We do support and help people get into programs where we will help them get the degree that’s necessary to successfully fill the position … you can also work while you are in school, so you can gain the education and experience to become a teacher or special education teacher.”

U.S. Marine Corp. Staff Sgt. Tellez Antonio explained that many of the jobs in the military today are computer-related. Antonio said he learned IT and specialized communication skills in the marines.

Job recruiters speaking with students
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Tellez Antonio speaks with Karen Riveria-Bautista. (Stephen Williams/WHYY)

Paige Montijo is program coordinator at Wesgold Fellows program at VestedIn, formerly the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution. This non-profit encourages wealth building in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.

“We are a paid summer internship for high school students where we do personal and professional development, with emphasis on financial literacy and entrepreneurism.”

It is an eight-week program, she said, which has a different theme each week.

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As part of the program, the participants listen to guest speakers, take several field trips to colleges and financial institutions, and learn more about the professional and college experience.

“We give them an opportunity to explore their business interests,” Montijos said. “At the end of it, we give them an opportunity to make a business pitch to VestedIn.”

In April, Mastery Charter Hardy Williams H.S. and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia received a $19.6 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to collaborate on a special curriculum that will guarantee a job for all graduates of the high school who complete the program, as part of a national effort in 10 other communities.

Khalil Moore, a senior at MCSLC, said he hoped to network and connect with employers in areas where he has an interest in areas such as education and city government after he graduates.

“If I don’t go to college or take a year off, I would like to have a job,” said Moore, which could be at Mastery Charter Schools. “I would like to go back to Mastery and be a beacon for the kids.”

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