Pro:Up and Out

For many students, high school can feel like just another one of those things you have to do.

You do your homework, pass your classes, and keep your nose clean until you graduate. But while there’s no doubt that a high school education is a crucial minimum requirement in today’s job market, can we be sure that this fundamental education is preparing students for life after grade-school? Is it really enough to allow students to simply go through the motions and hope for the best without making sure that they’ve picked up a good work ethic, personal accountability, or even discovered their passions or latent talents?  Experience is the best teacher, and one local business in the Detroit area is offering students the opportunity to seize that experience – Pro:Up.

Pro:Up is a new networking platform for connecting high school students with various local organizations and businesses to help them land internships, as well as gain other valuable work-related experience that will help them succeed after graduation. Since its inception, Pro:Up has registered over 2000 members, and is growing by nearly 20 new profiles each week; all for the expressed purpose of sparking students’ interest and galvanizing their path forward in life. I met with Pro:Up Co-Founder, Myles Morgan, for a closer look into the aims and the methods behind his organization.

One question that came to mind early on was, “What incentives are there for business to want to bring in high-schoolers with little or no experience?” Since new hires would certainly be more accident prone and eat-up an employer’s capital in order to be trained from the ground up, right? Myles was cognizant of this dilemma, but was clear on the point that businesses become a part of Pro:Up on voluntary basis – because they want to give these kids a leg up as their adult lives come careening toward them. Myles also commented on the growing disparity of skillsets in the labor market.

“Given the massive technical and soft skills gap in America, employers are providing these opportunities to high school students to develop talent earlier, feed their future talent pipelines, and increase brand recognitions to the next generation of employees.”

 In essence, businesses and organizations choosing to align with Pro:Up to provide these opportunities to teens have a lot to gain on the PR front, as well as the chance build a channel for new recruits to meet their needs as their businesses grow.

Regarding the demand for specific skill sets in the jobs market, namely those skills that don’t require a four-year degree to attain, Myles suggests that most schools in the area are not doing enough to promote alternative pathways through life that do not involve a university for those students who may not be able to afford it, or would simply rather go without it.

“We’re going to say something radical: College isn’t for everyone and it was never meant to be…While college has been the most promising tracks to economic security and mobility in the last few decades, the university pathway is losing its utility for many students in the 21st century…This is where Pro:Up helps. Students need not rely only on their schools or family networks to discover opportunities and pathways that fit them. They have a personalized feed of the perfect opportunities at their fingertips.”

 As Myles mentions, Pro:Up is equipped with a number of tools and functions that allows members to customize their notification feeds to their desired positions and businesses, seamlessly inserting itself into the fiber of the daily digital digest that teens today have made the norm. Myles’ seconds this idea, drawing a parallel between his platform and others. “Pro:Up is designed with high student engagement at the forefront. Existing opportunity boards cater to an older, more utilitarian demographic, people who may be interested in finding the right opportunity as quick as possible. Students have referred to Pro:Up as the ‘Instagram for Opportunities’.”

What’s one more feed to follow if it means a wealth of experience? A line of experience on a resume is as good as gold these days.

There’s a sea of sites online that dedicate themselves to distracting teens from the stresses of their lives, putting many of the more helpful and resources-rich pages on the back-burner. Competition and success are not for everyone; least of all to those unwilling to set aside the time to invest in themselves and in the security that comes with work experience. For those with a plan, Pro:Up is there to help follow through. For those without a plan (or a back-up plan) Pro:Up is there to help make one. True to Pro:Up’s slogan,

“Make moves, not excuses.”

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