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Workforce Development

STEM Initiatives

By: Lisa Derby Oden, STEM Project Coordinator

STEMPower, the Mid-Massachusetts STEM Pathways Initiative, has actively been serving dislocated workers, disadvantaged youth and veterans beginning in early 2009. Services provided to these jobseekers in transition include STEM career counseling, assessment for training gaps, recommendations for training providers, potential funding from One-Stop Career Centers depending on eligibility, referral to financial aid sources, STEM industry mentors, assistance with job search and interviewing skills, and an online community at This three-year program has served 175 participants in its first year.

We asked a few participants how the program has benefitted them and here is what they have to say:

Tom Cusack is interested in the renewable energy sector. “STEMPower has allowed me to establish connections with individuals working in the green-tech/renewable energy industry, as well as others looking for work in the industry. I’ve gained new insight by being coached to create an overall strategy that will help me to secure a position in the renewable energy field. Some of the strategy includes reading relevant articles regarding renewable energy; reading the  latest rules, regulations, and laws regarding the industry; and focusing on finding and researching the MA companies that compete in the industry. While I may land a job back in the commercial lending/banking industry during 2010, I will continue to strengthen the skills I believe will ultimately land me a job within the renewable energy industry.”

Judith Anderson is also interested in a green job. She is pleased that STEMPower has information and contacts all on one site. She shares, “Prior to STEMPower, I had to blindly search several sites to obtain the same information. Beyond the information available, there is the added benefit of the networking aspect. It also allows me to post a resume which could shorten my job search by providing another avenue of exposure to potential employers. Since I began participating in this program I have a better understanding of who the environmentally friendly companies are. Plus, the STEMPower site calendar brings seminars and workshops to the forefront I would not have been aware of unless I was already involved in an environmental program. Overall, STEMPower is a fantastic forum of information regarding job postings, workshops and seminars, networking and the mentor program. It is a powerful tool in the job/career search.”
Vaughn Hathaway has a background in IT and is an active STEMPower participant in a couple ways. “I have worked in a STEM career for more than 20 years, first as a software engineer and later as a software engineering manager. The STEM program has benefitted me by validating that STEM fields are still important. It has broadened my knowledge about STEM industries in Massachusetts and has also given me ideas about how I might be able to help others develop or increase their interest in a STEM-related career. STEMPower has let me know about STEM-related events, such as the STEM Summit in Sturbridge and the Worcester Business Journal Energy Summit, both of which I attended last fall. I’ve gained new insight and now realize that of the fastest growing job areas, more than half require STEM-related education. Despite that, there has been a problem getting people interested in STEM careers, and MA is below average for all states with respect to people choosing STEM careers. That has created a key push in education to grow interest and skills for STEM-related work.”
Vaughn continues, “Given my background and interests, I see ways that I can both benefit from and contribute to STEMPower activities. My career search has involved three different areas: positions similar to what I have done so far; positions that leverage the skills I’ve developed but in different industries; and teaching at the High School, Middle School, or possibly the Community College level. I have already taken significant steps toward becoming a teacher by passing the tests needed for a teacher’s license in secondary and middle school mathematics. I’m not sure what the short term prospects are for getting a job in teaching Mathematics, Science or Computer Science, but this is something that I would very much like to do. I have also signed up for the STEMPower mentor program, both as a mentor and a protégé. I think this STEM program is great and hope to continue to participate even after I get a job.”

Debbi Moore says that STEMPower has kept her involved and feeling like part of a group instead of a single lost soul among the entire mass of the unemployed. “STEMPower has helped me make networking connections, find and attend events I might not have otherwise, and helps me feel more focused on my search. At some point there will be growth in alternative/renewable energy and the "green" sector, and I need to figure out how I fit in. I realize the biggest hurdle may be to find a way to make personal contacts and not get lost in the internet pool of applicants. Actually I’m excited – there’s an amazing pool of resources/talent out there and this stuff is going to help the economy turn around and move forward. I’m optimistic and feeling like I can be part of the solution.”

John Chaffee says that STEMPower has helped him to see new ways to apply his skills. “There are job markets in places I never thought of.  My meetings with the coaches helped me to find other career paths that I’d be successful in.  It has also been helpful to use STEMPower’s contacts when applying for a job – they were able to find me two contacts within companies I applied to. Being part of this program has led me to new insight: Keep your options and mind open. You never know where your next job is going to come from. It’s ok to change your career path. Your skills are useful in many capacities and fields.  Shoot for the stars, you can never tell what will happen.”

To learn how to become involved in the program as an employer, mentor, advisory council member, or on, contact STEM Project Director, Lisa Derby Oden, at 508-751-7575 or [email protected]. Mid-Massachusetts STEM Pathways Initiative is sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The program is an equal opportunity program.

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