S⁠t⁠uden⁠t⁠s@Work℠ Mon⁠t⁠h Gran⁠t⁠s NC S⁠t⁠uden⁠t⁠s Exposure ⁠t⁠o Local Career Pa⁠t⁠hs

March 21, 2024

Kayla Maloney

CALN Project Manager

Professional little entrepreneurs with laptop in modern office

Unbeknownst to many, there is a little bit more to March than March Madness and Women’s History Month. To further North Carolina’s career readiness initiative, Gov. Cooper declared March Students@Work℠ Month. This effort expects to reach about 25,000 students throughout the state to teach them about jobs and industries in their communities. 

Students@Work℠ is a partnership between the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) and the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The project is in its 14th year, and it gives middle school students the opportunity to visit and learn about businesses in their area. Through the program, students are hosted, either virtually or in person, by employers who teach them about various career paths. 

233 businesses will present their careers to students this month. EdNC lays out the schedule as follows: 

  • March 1: Small Business and Entrepreneurship; 
  • March 4-8: Education, Health Care, and Public Service; 
  • March 11-15: STEM; 
  • March 18-22: Hospitality, Tourism, and Retail; and 
  • March 25-29: Manufacturing, Transportation, and Agriculture. 

Students@Work℠’s website says, “Career Awareness is a critical first step in adding relevancy to academics and positioning students to successfully navigate career pathways. Many students are unaware of the multitude of careers available within their state, and Students@Work helps bridge this gap.” 

In other words, this effort makes academics more relevant for a student body that craves for school to make them real-life-ready. 

Cooper hailed he program in a press release

“This innovative program gives North Carolina students a front row seat to explore careers and learn what it takes to prepare for their future jobs. … Employers including state government are excited to take part in Students@Work℠ to help inspire our next generation of workers and leaders.” 

The North Carolina State Budget includes provisions concerning career development for middle and high school students. NC has been increasing efforts to provide these types of resources for younger  

To “connect classroom learning to career pathways,” DPI also partnered with the N.C. Chamber to create a new Navigator that helps employers and educators accomplish this goal. Students@Work℠ is run through this tool. 

Students@Work℠ explains that middle school is a critical time for drop-out prevention. The earlier that students are shown how relevant their education can be, the more likely they are to value it and take it seriously. 

It is becoming increasingly clear that middle school students can benefit the most from career exploration. This is shown in a 2018 report conducted by the Association for Career & Technical Education. 

To read more on this story, visit ednc.org.