Although Starfish Initiative's primary purpose is to keep youth on track to graduate from high school, prepared to earn a college degree, our larger goal is to support the creation of a larger talent pool for Central Indiana businesses and strengthen the vitality of Indianapolis by connecting our efforts to local workforce development needs. While the Starfish Experience currently includes career exploration opportunities at the annual College and Career Expo and through the online Career Cruising portal, research also indicates that high school students who gain real-life work experience prior to graduation are more likely to enroll in college and obtain a postsecondary degree (Mortimer, The Benefits and Risks of Adolescent Employment, 2010).
Through the implementation of Starfish Initiative’s new Corporate Ally program, Scholars will have increased opportunities to gain meaningful work experiences through formalized job shadowing, college internships, or part-time summer employment to further help them identify and follow their personal pathways to successful careers. For many Scholars, Starfish Initiative’s Corporate Allies will provide their first work experience, and an opportunity to build key job skills, first-hand knowledge about career fields of interest, potential employment networks, and an employment history. Starfish knows that this strategy will benefit not only our bright young Scholars by helping them to identify career paths and, in turn, make more informed college choices, but also local employers who are seeking affordable strategies to broaden their workforce, and who also have a keen interest in building Indiana’s talent pipeline.