Looking for a fun way to give back to the Jersey City community? Are you overflowing with professional know-how and excited to share that expertise with local youth? Consider applying to be a mentor for the upcoming school year at Content Creators Academy Jersey City (CCAJC).
CCAJC is a free after school program for middle and high school students interested in digital design, media, and entrepreneurship. And one of my goals in starting the nonprofit was to find ways to connect our students with professionals from a wide variety of industries, so that they had a chance to ‘see behind the curtain’ and get a sense of what it took to be successful in that job. It’s a kind of professional learning experience that most youth in Jersey City don’t get in their schools. That’s why we work with the community to create opportunities for our students that can be invaluable for them when they apply for colleges or jobs.
We believe that content creation and entrepreneurship are closely tied together, because branding and marketing are central to growing and maintaining a business. That’s why we want people from all types of industries to be class mentors. Last year our mentors included a restaurant owner, a filmmaker, a photographer, musicians, a retail consultant, someone in financial services, an employee of a professional sports league, and the social media team at Atlantic Records. We want to expand the worlds of our students by introducing them to many different professions.
MacAdam Smith is our director at CCAJC, and he works with mentors to plan their class visits. “It’s always great when a mentor visits our classes,” he said. “They provide insight into careers that our students otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and open them to new job possibilities they may not have ever considered. It’s so important to provide these learning opportunities for youth, especially as they begin planning for college and their professional lives.”
The roles of our classroom mentors vary, and depend on their availability. “We try to be flexible on our end and build class projects around the schedule of our mentors, since classes meet during the workday,” said MacAdam. “Some come in for one class, talk about their jobs, and answer questions from students. Some bring us into their workspace so the class can experience directly how they do their job. And some come for multiple sessions to guide the class through a tailored content creation project.” In addition, some mentors have also continued guiding our students outside of the classroom, helping students secure internships and writing letters of recommendation.
If you’re interested in being a class mentor at CCAJC, you can complete the online volunteer application. You’ll be making a significant impact with some amazing youth from throughout Jersey City.