Who we are
For our final project, we formed four teams to focus on education, energy, quality of place, and health care in Maine.
What we’re doing
We chose to focus on individuals rather than tweaking existing programs. We wondered:
- Why are young people not choosing these high-demand occupations?
- Do they know those openings exist?
- Do they not yet know what they want to do for work?
We started with a theory: that young people who know what they love to do will be more likely to choose pathways that lead them toward careers that spark them. Indeed, we were inspired by the work of Peter Benson and the approach captured in his book, Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers.
It makes intuitive sense that championing a person’s intrinsic passions — from early childhood to higher education and beyond — is a worthwhile investment in their future, and our own. This approach also supports the Maine Department of Education’s 2012 strategic plan supporting learner-centered education.
In addition, we theorized that if young people see and hear practitioners who love working in high-demand occupations — rather than just reading about them — they are more likely to pursue education and experience that will allow them to find satisfying work here in Maine, rather than have to move away.
Since it is impractical to bring adults from dozens of occupations to every career counseling session, we decided to prototype a website that could contain short videos — submitted by people in high-demand jobs all around Maine — sharing why they love what they do, and why they choose to do it here.
- High school degree
- Associate’s degree or certificate
- Bachelor’s degree
- Higher degree
We then asked a person we each knew in one of those fields to share a brief story answering these three questions in one sentence each:
- What is your occupation?
- What do you love about it?
- Why do you choose to do that work here in Maine?
Each team member recorded a 1-minute video clip to share on our prototype website. We also developed instructions so, in the future, anyone could share their spark via YouTube, and we could add them to our website, categorized by the interest areas developed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
By sharing a sneak peek into these fields from real people, our hypothesis is that a young person will be more engaged, and more likely to find satisfying work here in Maine.