9 Immersive Career Programs in Pittsburgh Where Kids Experience Careers First-Hand

What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a difficult question that many children really have to answer. If they haven’t seen many careers up close, how can they know what a job looks like or what it will take to get there? Luckily, there are many local programs where kids get an up-close look at potential careers. These immersive career programs in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities highlight professions ranging from engineering and veterinary medicine to scientific research and teaching.

Find out what’s available:

Side by side repeat. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

1. Student Side by Side, Pittsburgh Symphony

Musically inclined children might wonder about a future as a classical musician. To find out, students in grades 9 through 12 can enroll in the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Side By Side program. They will receive personal instruction from their symphony musician counterpart, attend rehearsals, and possibly perform in a symphony concert on stage, side-by-side with their mentor. Students of all musical skill levels may apply with a teacher’s recommendation. Applications are being accepted until February 15 this year, with rehearsals starting April 5 for the May 10 concert.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Science Center.

2. Visit Your Future, Carnegie Science Center

The Carnegie Science Center’s Tour Your Future series offers non-binary girls and children ages 11-17 the opportunity to meet women in STEM careers. They will learn first-hand what it is like to work in industries that depend on science, technology, engineering, and math education.

Choose from sessions like the Allegheny Health Network’s STAR Center (running February 21 this year), where kids will be immersed in simulated scenarios in an operating room, ambulance, and nursery. Or visit Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care on April 11 to hang out with engineers and product managers. The children in this session will be introduced to a hands-on design activity. Other stops on the tour cover topics such as agricultural technology, environmental science, pharmacy, and vaccine research. Registration for each session is $10.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Photo by Fauxels.

3. Genius, Joy, and Love Summer Academy, University of Pittsburgh School of Education

For kids interested in pursuing a teaching career, this is one of the best immersive career programs in Pittsburgh. Officials of the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship Program, Advancing Educators of Color (AEC), and Pitt’s School of Education have teamed up to launch a fee-based summer academy for high school students. This is part of an initiative to add 35 black educators to the Pittsburgh public school system. The Genie, Joy and Love Summer Academy will begin this summer with 10 to 20 up-and-coming seniors. Students will be matched with undergraduate and graduate student mentors for hands-on learning that will take place over four weeks on the Pitt campus. College preparation and guidance on applications and financial aid will be included in the sessions. And in the spirit of giving back, this summer’s academy students will return next year to support the next group.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

4. Urban EcoStewards and Young Naturalists, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

High school students interested in conservation and ecology can attend one of two Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy programs. Urban High School Eco-Stewards work in teams that adopt a section of parkland to perform hands-on restoration projects, improve watershed health, control erosion, and remove invasive plant species. The Young Naturalists program is for teenagers who have completed the EcoStewards course. These paid positions give children experience in a leadership role while working outdoors on physically demanding tasks. Young naturalists are also offered insight into pursuing a degree and career related to sustainability and environmental science. Learn more here.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of School 2 Career.

5. School 2 Career, Oakland Planning and Development Corporation

The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation Career School 2 operates year-round, beginning with a paid summer orientation. Then, throughout the school year, children work in paid internships with employers across the region to develop new skills, professional contacts, and experience in a variety of careers. Students receive academic support with free tutoring, as well as Microsoft Office training and certificates. Keeping college goals in mind, the program makes the application process and preparation for the SAT easier. The program has 100% of its students graduate from high school, accepted into college, and eligible for the Pittsburgh Promise. Apply here.

A seven-week health showcase is running through March 9 at the Hill/Blakely Center. The showcase meets twice a week, offering hands-on learning activities in areas such as physiotherapy, pharmacy, social medicine and biological sciences. Interested? Register here.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Invasion of youth. Photo courtesy of Andy Warhol Museum.

6. Youth Arts Council, Andy Warhol Museum

The Andy Warhol Museum helps teens develop leadership roles and a professional museum experience with its Youth Arts Council. High school students in the one-year program work behind the scenes at the museum, receive stipends, and collaborate with museum staff and artists. Council members develop cool programming for teens like the Teen Fashion Show on March 25 and Youth Invasion on April 29, when teens take over the Warhol as artists, performers and designers. The Youth Arts Council application for the 2021-2022 school year is now closed, but watch here for the 2022-2023 announcement.

And in the meantime, interested teens can get involved in planning the LGBTQ+ Youth Prom. The gender-neutral ball, open to children aged 13 to 20, is scheduled for June 4. The Warhol provides transportation support, food, and a prom ticket to all members of the prom planning committee. Registration is free for monthly planning meetings.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Photo by Dmitry Zvolsky.

7. U. Zoo and Keeper Interactions, Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

High school students interested in animal-related careers will benefit from Zoo U. at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The program features areas of study, such as marine biology, zoology, veterinary medicine, animal husbandry, and field research. Children chat with zoo professionals to learn what it’s like to work in these areas. Animal encounters and insider tours of zoo areas are included. The current Zoo U. Wild Careers program has already launched and is full.

But on March 12 and 13, Zoo U. All About Alpacas celebrates this trending animal for a two-day weekend. Day one includes alpaca genetics, breeding and breeding, day two at an alpaca farm in Claysville. Transportation will be provided to and from the zoo. Registration is $175. Watch for additional Zoo U. programming throughout the year.

Interactions with the Guardians, also for high school students, are scheduled for the first Tuesday of the month through April. The $14 admission includes a tour of a specific area of ​​the zoo and the chance to speak with zoo staff about their work. Children in grades 6-8 have the opportunity to learn more about a career in conservation through the Junior Conservationist Program which runs from Saturday to April 9.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum.

8. Gene Team, Pitt Biology Outreach

Science-minded teens from urban Pittsburgh high schools who are interested in biology are invited to apply for a position in the Gene Team program. Pitt Biology Outreach will provide state-of-the-art laboratory training to collect data for an ongoing research project. The five-week program meets daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Pitt campus. Bus passes will be provided and participants will receive an allowance at the end of the program. Sessions will focus on strategies and skills that will help apply to college. To be eligible, children must have completed a year of high school biology. Stay tuned for 2022 dates and application information.

immersive career programs in Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of Innovation Works.

9. Startable, innovation works

Entrepreneurial-minded kids aged 13-17 will have the chance to shine with Innovation Work’s Startable program. The six-week summer program guides kids on how to design and market hardware products and start their own business. This year, the program will be a hybrid model that includes virtual sessions with in-person sessions. Entrants will complete their work by producing a three-minute video pitch to compete for a share of $10,000 in prize money. Applications will open in May for the summer program which begins June 27 this year.

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