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NEK Middle School Students Get Hands-on Experience with Jobs at KCC

Written by
Stephen Mease

October 26, 2022


Kingdom Careers Kickoff session at NVU

On a bright Tuesday morning in early October, more than 400 middle school students descended on the Northern Vermont University (NVU) Lyndon campus for VSAC’s Kingdom Career Connect. Outside in the parking lot, one group tested out the levers in a plow truck, while others tried their hand at repairing household plumbing fixtures. In one classroom, students built bridges out of candy and graham crackers; down the hall, some of their peers built an app. 

For the students who participated, and for the outside observer, it was a glimpse into the future of the Vermont workforce, a topic that has at times worried policymakers, educators, and business leaders in a state with an aging demographic. But on October 4, there was no shortage of interest and enthusiasm for early career planning – including in many of the sectors the state has identified as high-priority fields.

A group of people standing next to a construction vehicle

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Kingdom Career Connect, or KCC, is an event that VSAC has offered every year since the 1990s – except for the “pandemic years,” 2020 and 2021 when it was offered virtually. According to Anna Telensky, who has organized the event for VSAC since 2017, this year’s participation was as strong as she’s ever seen.

“There was a huge interest from schools in the region to ‘get back out there,’ the students were really engaged, and we had more local presenters than we’ve had in years past,” Telensky said.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with a welcome session, then two hour-long workshop sessions, then lunch, and a keynote presentation. This year’s keynote was presented by Careers CLiC, emphasizing the critical skills necessary to succeed in any career and the fact that success is often not a straight-line path, even for those who think they know what they want to do.

Just after one o’clock, the students depart for their respective school campuses, many with some new ideas about potential areas of career interest.

According to Telensky, one student wrote on her post-event comment card: “I’d never considered HR before, but now I think I might want to do this.”

A wide variety of Vermont professionals came together to offer the 27 different career workshops, which covered topics ranging from lawmaking to biomedical engineering, writing to renewable energy, and accounting to entrepreneurship. Among the most popular workshops were carpentry and childhood mental health counseling.

The intended takeaways, said Telensky, were interest cultivation and early-stage planning. “At this age, it’s about giving them exposure and letting them explore things that are interesting to them,” said Telensky, “as well as providing a bit of guidance: if this is a path you want to keep exploring, this is what you should take for high school classes.”

The event is also an opportunity to introduce 7th and 8th graders to the experience of a college campus, including navigating their way to various classrooms, and, of course, a perennial favorite: eating in the cafeteria.

And for at least one student, the day provided an early inspiration for college planning. As they shared on their comment card: “I love this place so much. I want to find out how I can come here someday!”

VSAC will be hosting a virtual career exploration event in November for schools across the state. Students and families can also check out the Vermont Career Connect website for a host of career exploration resources, including a career interest inventory and more than 100 recorded career interviews.  

Also view the just released McClure Foundation "Most Promising Jobs for 2023-24" at