Summer’s Creepin’ In…What’s the Plan?

The primary topic of conversation at a duo of CNX Foundation Mentorship Academy sessions this past week—during two snowy, cold, bleak days in western Pennsylvania—was, of all things, summer. As in summer will be here before the students know it. Thus it’s time to start refining those resumes, sharpening those interview skills, and developing a customized game plan to further expand resumes and target specific career or professional tracks to pursue.

Since every individual student is unique, each plan of attack from now till summer will be specialized. Such tailoring requires one-on-one discussion and contemplation between mentors and students. The prior six months of hard work by both parties has paid off. Trust and familiarity have opened communication channels. Site visits have laid the groundwork for a better student understanding of the various career paths to choose from in the real economy that pay family-sustaining wages and that don’t require a college degree (or the four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt that goes with it).

Mentors were blown away by the focus and value of these one-on-one sit downs with each student the past week.

Resumes drafted in January are being refined and sculpted in February. Gaps in experience, volunteer work, job shadowing, or references are being identified for each student. A plan is being put in place to fill those voids over the next few months by designing Academy curriculum and events to deliver the desired results and accomplishments.

The most exciting takeaway from these February sessions? That’s easy. Interacting with students who came into the program last summer as unsure kids without a plan, and now seeing young men and women growing more confident and aware by the day. That growing confidence and awareness is both internal and external; of oneself as well as the wider world that surrounds them.

And sometimes it is the little things that precipitate the most profound changes.

Our partner, Dress for Success Pittsburgh, set up shop at last week’s sessions and provided an opportunity for students to pick out a professional outfit or two to wear for future interviews. The impact was something to see; almost as if the attire created a new uniform for the student where their demeanor and attitude amped up to another level. Attire matters, not just for the people you will be meeting, but just an importantly for the individual making the impression.

The growing sense of excitement and the smell of pending success are great, but now is not the time to ease up.

The Academy, mentors, CNX, and partner entities are going to double down between now and summer to help each student progress to the finish line. That finish line is clearly marked with a simple objective of a young adult entering a chosen career path.

Ain’t no stopping now. As the Navy SEALS like to say: the only easy day was yesterday.

Learn more about Dress for Success Pittsburgh at

The Mentorship Academy is an initiative of CNX Foundation and part of CNX’s commitment to investing in its local community. Designed for high school students who do not plan to immediately attend a four-year college, the Academy is focused on providing urban and rural youth from economically disadvantaged regional Appalachian communities with greater opportunities—helping provide these young adults a bridge to family-sustaining careers. Following the mentorship program, students will have developed new relationships with peers and business leaders across western Pennsylvania, a new excitement for the region’s career opportunities and an understanding of how to pursue those careers.

Summer’s Creepin’ In…What’s the Plan?