Workforce Mentoring

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Workforce Mentoring pairs current professionals from STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers with students at two Bakersfield high schools for monthly mentoring sessions. During those sessions, professionals do the following for the students:

  • Become familiar with and invested in their interests and educational/career pursuits
  • Guide them through a curriculum created to teach lessons about soft skills, work ethic, independence, and self-confidence
  • Provide a positive glimpse into the everyday experience of having a job in Kern County via personal stories and encouragement.

Aside from those life lessons, students gain a personal advocate and mentors. Educators have shared with KEDF that for most students, there is little-to-no contact with adults other than their parents and teachers. Mentors are a new and exciting prospect for the kids. Not only do they enjoy having an adult around who has their best interests in mind, but that person holds them accountable for their actions and decisions. Their mentors are potential references for future career, a direct line to possible job openings, and a resource for professional advice indefinitely.

Ultimately, the mentoring program strives to prepare students have successful career pursuits, while developing a more qualified future workforce for local employers.

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Mentored youth:

  • have better school attendance and grades than their peers
  • experience a reduction in depressive symptoms and more positive beliefs about their academic abilities
  • exhibit fewer negative behaviors than their peers
  • trust/communicate better with their parents than their peers
  • better understand the connection between education and future success
  • have more interest in attending college, especially amongst those whose parents have not
  • eventually find more rewarding careers and perceived success than their peers
  • in turn, begin mentoring their peers


KEDF’s curriculum was created by outstanding South High School teacher and former Independence High School Academy Director, Kim Woolf. In 2008, KEDF joined forces with Kim to add valuable lessons from an employer’s perspective and develop a teaching tool that bridged the gap between education and career. The Workforce Mentoring curriculum aims to impart upon students the skills and traits Kern County employers are looking for in future hires. See below for a list of monthly topics:

Sophomore Year

September- Standardized testing
October- Planning for the future
November- Time management
December- Soft skills
January- Resumes
February- Study habits
March- College options
April- Future standardized testing
May- Wrap-up

Junior Year

September- Standardized testing
October- Career interests
November- Personal statements
December- Soft skills
January- Job hunting
February- Interview skills
March- Interviews
April- College applications
May- Wrap-up

Senior Year

September- Review and prep for senior year
October- Choosing a college and course of study
November- College/campus life
December- Soft skills
January- Managing Stress
February- Working while in college
March- Financial Literacy
April- Interviews
May- Wrap-up


Both high schools participating in Workforce Mentoring (Independence and East Bakersfield) incorporate it into their Career-Tech Academies for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. All students participating have indicated a serious interest in pursuing STEM careers.

East Bakersfield HS Health Careers Academy: 150 students. 85% female, 15% male.
School overall- 86% hispanic, 7% white, 4% black, all others less than 1%.
School overall- 82% of students are eligible for free/reduced-price lunch- the primary/widely-accepted indicator of low income status.

Independence HS Energy and Utility Careers Academy: 150 students. 63% female, 37% male.
School overall- 51% hispanic, 30% white, 8% black, 6% asian, all others 3% or less.
School overall- 49% are eligible for free/reduced-price lunch- the primary/widely accepted indicator of low income status.

  • More than half of the programs’ students are female, an underserved population, especially in STEM careers. In fact, according to the National Science Foundation, males are six times more likely than females to take engineering classes during K-12 education. And in college, women pursue and achieve just 18.2% (computer science), 18.4% (engineering), and 43.1% (mathematics) of the degrees awarded. Our mentoring program is looking to help bridge that gap and bolster girls’ interest and pursuit of STEM careers.
  • More than half of the schools’ populations are hispanic, an underserved population, especially in STEM careers. While they are the fastest growing demographic in the country, they make up just 7% of the STEM workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2011).
  • Over 80% of one school’s students (and nearly half the other) are of low-income status. Employees in STEM careers earn 33% more than in other careers, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce and Economic Statistics Administration. Providing such students with education and exposure to those careers, will inspire higher-wage career pursuits and ideally begin approaching their socio-economic challenges as they transition into adulthood and independence.

Data from schools’ self-reporting and


KEDF strives to make mentoring as uncomplicated and fun as possible, while providing you the tools necessary to make each session effective. To become a mentor at Independence High School’s Energy and Utility Career Academy or East Bakersfield High School’s Health Careers Academy, you should be:

  • Employed in a STEM (science, technology,engineering, math) field. KEDF welcomes professionals from entry-level to executives who are looking to make a difference in their community and we don’t discriminate in regards to education level. In fact, mentees are interested in a broad range of careers, so diverse job titles and varying degrees of education are preferred.
  • Available to attend monthly one-hour sessions at your assigned high school during the school year. Generally, sessions are held at the same time, in the same classroom, with the same kids on the same day of each month. An example of your mentoring session may be “the third Wednesday of each month at 10:45am.” For a full list of dates and times, visit our calendar.
  • Flexible and friendly while maintaining your role as an authority figure. You’re encouraged to talk with students, not at them. While KEDF provides a monthly curriculum, you are welcome to stray from that guideline and allow conversation to happen organically. Answer students’ questions candidly and truthfully, and provide them advice about real world situations. Because you are not a regular teacher or parent, the students will listen to you and follow your example. Be a good role model!
  • Prepared to “invest” in your mentoring partners and student mentees for three years.  KEDF asks that mentors begin with their groups when students are sophomores and stick with that group until they graduate as seniors. Each group consists of 7-15 students and 2-5 mentors. This will be your group for the entire experience, and it’s not uncommon for mentors to bond and volunteer together for another three years after their first class graduates.