School-to Career Pathways in Boston
Ashlyn Garry, a 2017 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, is an MBA candidate at the Boston University Questrom School of Business.
This summer, as a Fellow in the Office of New Urban Mechanics, I explored how the City can support school-to-career pathways in Boston. Boston Public Schools has several different kinds of pathways programs, and will be launching more in the immediate future to reach even more students. School-to-career pathways use interdisciplinary teaching and work-based learning opportunities to help connect students’ learning in school to their future careers, bringing what students are learning in the classroom to what they will do outside of them in the future.
On a deeper level, pathways are a tool for student retention and engagement, career exploration, economic mobility, and ultimately equity — and this bigger picture is key for understanding why they are so important. Pathways to college and careers are ways that our city can address inequity and move towards becoming a Boston that is equal for everyone. All students deserve to graduate high school ready for college and careers. Providing students with professional experience, in addition to their academic work, can strengthen student engagement while also helping them identify what types of work interests them. Ultimately, what this really means is that students have choices: the choice of attending college and the choice of a career they enjoy and that will help support their future plans.
This work is at the center of several key groups of stakeholders: Education Chief Rahn Dorsey and his team, Boston Public Schools, the Mayor’s Offices of Economic Development and Workforce Development, the private sector, students and their families, and nonprofit and community-based organizations. Engaging with all of these groups was an incredible opportunity for me as well. As an MBA Student at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, I am specializing in both the Public and Nonprofit Sector and Strategy and Innovation. My work this summer not only allowed me to partner with amazing individuals who are passionately committed to serving our students, but also brought my lessons from the classroom into the real world in a tangible way.
Finally, this project meant so much to me because of my own background. I’m working in the public and nonprofit sector today because of a public service fellowship I had as a Boston Public Schools student. At the time, I thought I might be interested in working in the public sector; with a Navy veteran Boston firefighter and a nurse as parents, public service was the ‘family business,’ in a way. But I wasn’t sure if it was really the right fit until my high school internship. The fast-paced, constantly shifting environment of the Massachusetts Governor’s Press Office — combined with the opportunity to be on the front lines of policies impacting hundreds of thousands people — was revelatory for me. After graduating college, I pursued roles in Human Resources at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC and in external affairs at City Year Boston. Working in these different arenas, each concerned with different aspects of the common good, showed me the power and meaning possible in service-based careers.
MONUM’s focus on thoughtful partnership, creative problem-solving, and strategic collaboration makes it not only a leader in effecting change through public service, but also an ideal place to develop and iterate strategies to make life better for all Bostonians. Ultimately, I hope my work this summer creates more opportunities for Boston students like the one I had: opportunities to find their professional passions, reach their career goals, and achieve their dreams.