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21st Century Careers

The 21st Century Careers Program (Careers) helps students begin to develop their post-secondary and career goals in middle school so that they enter high school prepared for a rigorous pre-college curriculum. The program fosters the connection between academic success and career aspirations through academic tutoring, financial literacy education, college & career exploration, real-world work experiences, and more.

What will students learn?

Careers is an afterschool program that covers topics intended to help students increase their academic performance and better understand and prepare for college and careers. The program offers instructor-led college exploration and career development activities that address topics such as:

  • Self Discovery & Goal Setting
  • Exploration of College and Careers
  • Career Guest Speakers
  • Company and College Tours
  • Financial Education
  • Employment Skills Training (8th graders only)
  • Summer Career Awareness Internships (8th graders)

Summer Career Awareness Internships

Eighth grade students at Wright Middle School or Eighth and Ninth grade students at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School may be eligible to participate in a Summer Career Awareness Internship. Internships give students their first work experience. Internships are paid and include placement at local for-profit and non-profit businesses for 12 hours per week. Students must also attend two half-days of classroom instruction per week in core academic subjects with an emphasis on mathematics.

Who is eligible?

There is no cost to participate. The program is open to any actively enrolled student at Wright Middle School in Madison and Patrick Marsh Middle School, Prairie View Middle School, or Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School in Sun Prairie. Enrollment is not guaranteed as there are a limited number of slots available. To be eligible for an internship, the student must successfully complete the school year program, turn fourteen by June 15, and complete all legal requirements to obtain a work permit.

When/where is the program held?

Program activities occur at school with occasional offsite field trips. Snacks are provided and transportation home is available. The summer internship program is held at company sites and the Urban League's Center for Economic Development & Workforce Training.

How can you help?

Volunteers are an integral part of our efforts to prepare our youth for the future. The nature and capacity of your commitment can be as simple or advanced as desired. We can accommodate most any schedule. Just a few examples of how you can help:

Guest Speaker
Description: Visit a daytime or after-school classroom and speak for approximately 20 minutes about your job. Afterwards students will be able to ask questions.
Purpose: Helps students become more aware of careers in different fields and the education needed for the job.
Example topics to address: What is a typical day like? Where were you in 8th grade? How did you get to where you are today? What do you like/not like about your job? Did you overcome obstacles to get where you are today?

Work Site Visit

Description: Help organize a tour of your work site and provide simple explanations of work that is done there.
Purpose: Through observation students will learn about various job atmospheres and cultures, while broadening their awareness of possible career paths.
Examples of Work Site Visit: A biologist gives students a guided tour of his/her lab after school. During the tour, he or she explains the different machines and equipment in the lab and encourages students to ask questions.

Mock Interviewer

Description: Help students practice job interviewing skills.
Purpose: Students get comfortable interviewing for jobs as part of their training for a summer career awareness internship program.

Special Project Example

Description: Help students explore financial concepts.
Purpose: Students learn practical life skills and become comfortable with money management concepts.
Example topics: Real-life budgeting simulation. Stock market game. Opening bank accounts.

Career Awareness Internship Supervisor

Description: Provide student with a real-life job experience.
Purpose: Students practice the work skills taught during the school year in a real workplace setting. Students experience different careers first-hand.

Partner Businesses for the REACH component of 21st Century Careers include...
Prairie Athletic Club, CH Bird Elementary School, Meant to Bead, Catholic Charities, American Family Insurance, Patio Pleasures, Sun Prairie Star Newspaper, Alliant Energy, City Hall Pet & Gifts, Wil-Mar Neighborhood, South Madison Public Library, State Farm Insurance, & UW Hospitals and Clinics.

Contact us



Student enrollment

Andrew Schilcher


Corporate sponsorship

Hedi Rudd


Major support for 21st Century Careers is provided by: