This experiential learning course began during the fall 2022 semester, with nearly 30 students signing up to work with the “Our State, Our Work” program and the selected community collaborative teams. Continued interest prompted a spring 2023 course, allowing students to continue engaging with teams.
Throughout the semester, students assisted program managers as they developed projects supporting “Opportunity Youth” at 13 sites across North Carolina. This is a population of young adults ages 16 to 24 who are not enrolled in school and not working full or part-time.
In practical terms, course participants provided assistance to the collaborative teams in such areas as fact-finding efforts, connecting county projects to UNC’s on-campus knowledge and resources, and facilitating cross-project information sharing.
Academically, the course provided a way to learn more about the issues of youth employment, young adult aspirations, and post-covid cultures of work, learning and careers and to put various research skills to use. Guided by faculty experienced in engaged research, students learned how to adapt social science methods to align with community purposes. In addition, the course provided opportunities for students to reflect on their work and offer strategies to students for translating their skills and experience for their next career steps.