THIS EDITION FOCUSES ON EPIC. FOR GOOD REASON.
Exploring Potential Interests & Careers, otherwise known as EPIC, is an incredibly successful collaboration that puts employers in touch with thousands of future employees. EPIC isn’t national. Its programming, participation and impressive results are found in only one place: Central Minnesota.
EPIC is much more than the annual event attended by nearly 5,000 area high schoolers who enjoy hands-on opportunities for career exploration. Launched in 2018, EPIC is a year-round, community-driven program supported by more than 60 area organizations. That includes the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, which views EPIC as a valuable aspect of our strategic priorities regarding talent attraction.
The uniqueness of this program and its importance are why we’re dedicating this edition of Developing News to EPIC, plus some Upcoming Events at the end.
EMILY DAVIS HIRED TO SERVE AS EPIC COORDINATOR
The many activities associated with EPIC require extensive attention and coordination throughout the year, which is why we’re pleased to announce that the EPIC Board of Directors has hired Emily Davis as EPIC Coordinator.
Emily, who is operating out of the GSDC offices, comes to us from Blue Earth, Minnesota, where she was the Community Workforce Coordinator with Community and Economic Development Associates. She’s a graduate of Minnesota State University – Mankato, with a bachelor’s degree in mass media.
WHAT ELSE DOES EPIC DO? BUCKLE UP!
Simply put, EPIC is comprised of numerous events, resources and programs that bridge education and industry in Central Minnesota. EPIC assists students as they discover interests and careers beyond high school, while also contributing to the fulfillment of local economic and workforce needs.
In addition to other initiatives described elsewhere in this newsletter, EPIC includes a student event; an Influencers event for students and their mentors (parents and grandparents, teachers, counselors, Big Brothers/Sisters, etc.); an interactive online tool called EPIConnect, which connects students and educators to local employers; Career Exploring Posts through the Boy Scouts of America (see separate article below); and Experience Career Kits, which are career exploration activities contained in a portable container available for checkout at St. Cloud Great River Regional Library.
None of this would be possible without the partnership of area school districts and post-secondary institutions, the United Way of Central Minnesota, Career Solutions, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota, Boy Scouts of America, many private-sector organizations and others. See them all here.
All funding for EPIC comes from local employers, grants and foundations. Click here to see sponsors.
EPIC DAY 2023 IS OCTOBER 27 AT SCTCC
On EPIC Day 2023 – Friday, October 27 – approximately 4,700 10th and 11th grade students from 25 area high schools will engage in hands-on interactive activities and experiences to help illustrate what opportunities can look like within hundreds of careers.
Students will be bused to St. Cloud Technical & Community College, where over 200 generous local employers will provide incredible, real-world exposure while answering student questions. To ensure all industries are showcased at this fourth annual event, EPIC has created these experiences using the Minnesota State Career Wheel.
To help students prepare for EPIC Day, staff from area school districts will provide resources and recommendations to ensure students get the most from the experience. Follow-up discussions and activities within each school district will help students use this event to further create their career roadmap.
AN EMPLOYER’S VIEW OF EPIC’S IMPORTANCE
The value of EPIC to help area employers identify future workers is described below by Paul Radeke, CFP, AIF, shareholder and market relationship manager of Creative Planning LLC (formerly BerganKDV) and EPIC Board Chair.
Generational shifts, skills gap and evolving technology have reshaped how businesses are approaching recruiting. The scope has broadened to include providing guidance to youth with selecting their career paths.
There is a constant struggle with the perception of what it’s really like to work in various roles, which can ultimately deter students from pursuing a career that might actually be right for them. For example, many students have the misconception that an accountant spends their entire day sitting at a desk crunching numbers without any interaction, when in fact they also spend time meeting with and advising clients.
It’s imperative to clear up the mistaken beliefs about what “a day in the life” of our various industries truly entail. This requires us to evolve the way we teach youth about career choices.
We need to go beyond just having them take an assessment to uncover individual aptitudes and passions. As employers, we can provide the inside perspective and paint a more accurate picture of our industries. Through in-person engagement, we can educate students about which avenues might best fit the ways they like to work and interact, what potential growth opportunities exist, offer insights on how we made our career choice, plus dispel any myths they may have about certain jobs.
The benefits of providing this guidance are numerous; they extend further than building relationships with educators and prospective future employees and enhancing a positive brand perception. By actively engaging with youth and offering interactive resources for career exploration, we’re empowering them to make informed decisions which lead to a career that aligns with their unique passions, skills and aspirations.
Our mission is truly EPIC; as is the profound impact we’re striving to continue making in the lives of our future workforce.
A SCHOOL SUPERINDENT’S VIEW OF EPIC’S IMPORTANCE
Bradley D. Bergstrom, Superintendent of Schools for the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District and GSDC Board member, describes why he believes EPIC is so important for student growth.
Sauk Rapids-Rice Public Schools is thrilled to be involved with and participate in EPIC, because a win for our students and staff and is a win for the community. Central Minnesota communities collaborated to offer secondary students a time and place to explore potential career paths. Area communities, businesses and service organizations provide hands-on opportunities for students to learn about different careers and or trades.
The annual EPIC event is an amazing opportunity for thousands of area students to explore a multitude of careers and trades. Prior to attending EPIC, students are encouraged to complete career interest inventories in order to identify top areas of interest to focus on at the event. Students who attend are afforded the time to circulate among the businesses, explore interests, ask questions, watch demonstrations and participate directly in a related task.
As students explore their interests and potentially find their niche, they can work with school staff and/or parents and guardians to create a plan for future classes, part-time jobs, job shadowing and internships that supplement their education and experience in preparation for life after graduation. EPIC empowers students to take charge of their now and facilitate their future.
One of the things that amazes me to think about was said most profoundly by former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley: “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist … using technologies that haven’t been invented … in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”
It is our job as educators, mentors, business owners, parents/guardians and community members to foster students’ growth and encourage their imagination to prepare them for their and our future.
BSA’S ‘EXPLORING’ PROGRAM ANOTHER GREAT ASPECT OF EPIC
Sarah Dean, Boy Scouts of America’s Central Minnesota Council (BSACMC) Career Exploring Coordinator, describes the Exploring program that BSACMC generously offered to be another aspect of EPIC. We’re glad they did.
I remember being a senior in high school and facing decisions that would impact the rest of my life. It felt huge and all-encompassing. Probably because they were huge decisions. I found myself thinking that I had no idea how to make those choices, but I got my first taste of life’s, “It’s happening, so ready or not, here you go!”
Today it seems like our youth have to know even sooner what path to take and – newsflash – like me, many have no idea. So how can youth get an idea of what they would like to do? Wouldn’t it be great if there were some way they could try out a career before they spend time and money training for it?
Guess what? THEY CAN! The program is called EXPLORING. Youth ages 14-20 can register for an Exploring post where they will get to work with community professionals from their selected career.
Youth can find out in a safe environment if they love (or hate) a career before entering the field. BONUS: They make valuable connections to professionals who can mentor them on their next steps. DOUBLE BONUS: Many businesses offer internships or other opportunities to youth upon completion of the experience.
So what’s the catch? Does it sound too good to be true? No catch. Just community members and business owners who want to make a difference in the lives of our youth and future community leaders. Visit bsacmc.org/exploring to learn about our upcoming career post opportunities.
If you are a business, organization or community member who would like to get involved please reach out to Program Coordinator Sarah Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Create CommUNITY’s 18th Annual Conversation on Race – 5:00-7:30 p.m. next Tuesday, October 10, at the River’s Edge Convention Center. With the theme of “Listening for Understanding: St. Cloud Story Circles,” the event will include a free community dinner, conversation and sharing. Learn more and register here.
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