Professional Challenge / Kaiser Permanente

February 28, 2018 / Nikki Malcolm


February 28, 2018

In collaboration with Kaiser Permanente, the 114th Partnership has designed a unique and interactive career exploration experience for 9th and 11th graders from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) via Springbrook High School (Silver Spring, MD). Students participated in a four-hour “Professional Challenge” facilitated by some of Kaiser’s most talented and dynamic employees.

114th Professional Challenges provide students with the opportunity to apply academic skills to real workplace challenges drawn from high-growth careers.  Challenges are facilitated by employers who provide hands-on coaching and mentoring as an alternative to traditional classroom presentations or internships. For employers, this rewarding experience equips their volunteers to shape students’ career interests and tap into their personal motivations and humanitarian aspirations.

One mentor shared their excitement about the “exposure to fresh-thinking high schoolers,” while another responded that, "working with students to help them see what opportunities are available " was the best thing about the Professional Challenge experience.

The healthcare industry is growing rapidly and offers several careers that are currently in high demand, include generous compensation and can provide a secure future complete with many opportunities for advancement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations are projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs.

The Kaiser workplace challenge assigned to students aligned to the MCPS curriculum in Foundations of Technology, Foundations of Computer Science, Science, Mathematics and Technology Common Core Standards. The experience ended with a tour of Kaiser’s Center for Total Health. Built in 2011, the interactive learning destination highlights what Kaiser and others are doing to advance healthcare delivery in the United States.  

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A formative evaluation of the Kaiser challenge found that 93% of students would recommend that employers provide more examples of career-based problem solving. 

“We are proud to support the work of the 114th Partnership—an organization that has helped young people navigate education and career pathways for years, said Gracelyn McDermott Executive Director, Account Management. “This professional challenge helps us deepen our commitment to nurturing the talent and passions of the future workforce.”

Since 2002, the 114th Partnership has worked with employers and educators to design, produce, and deliver programming that features the application of standards-based academic skills in high-opportunity careers. Career challenges are created using two programs that are free to schools: Spark 101 Interactive STEM Videos (led by teachers in the classroom) and 114th Professional Challenges (led by employers.)

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