Springfield students eligible for mentor program

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Springfield students now have the opportunity to work side-by-side with professionals in hands-on careers.

The ACE Mentor Program is a nationwide program, with about 70 affiliates nationwide. There are affiliates located in St. Louis and Kansas City, but this year will be the first year that Springfield students can apply for the program.

ACE stands for architecture, construction and engineering. Students who go through the program are matched up with industry professionals to learn more about their trade.

Those three areas are careers that have seen declining interest recently, so it's a chance to show students exactly what these jobs entail.

"Average age of our employees in construction and design, it's kind of creeping up," said Stacie Ramos, affiliate president. "So it's really critical that we allow students access to what we do daily, to overarching concepts of career paths in our industry so they can be inspired, know exactly what steps they need to take if they're planners, and if they're the opposite, where they don't know where they want to go, it gives a clear, guided direction."

Right now, the program is only open to Springfield high school students, because a local affiliate has to raise the money to sponsor each student. So they raised enough for five teams of five students.

Ramos said organizers want to expand this to nearby school districts next year so students in rural and Springfield's surrounding areas can have access to this opportunity too.

Another benefit of the program, Ramos said, is the soft skills students pick up that are so important in today's workforce.

"Those are skills that employers are really looking at," she said. "And as high school students, if you're interested in internships or going into a career as soon as you graduate high school, it's really important that you learn how to interact, how to communicate, how to do certain tasks in ways that your employers will ask, and, bare minimum, ACE will offer you those skill sets, it's going to help you improve those."

The deadline to apply is Friday, September 8th. To apply, click on the link in the "additional links" box on this page.