Dante Hernandez, a rising ninth grader at Technology High School, never imagined that an Oculus headset would be his way of getting to work.
This summer, it is – and his office is in the virtual world.
While some teens find jobs in retail or restaurants, Hernandez and 50 other Newark students are spending their vacation from school in an immersive reality called the metaverse, a virtual version of everything you can do in real life. For six weeks, students learn the skills to code, develop virtual software, and find ways to put their new knowledge to the test.
“We enter a virtual building and everything’s there for us. We just start learning,” Hernandez said. “This kind of opened our eyes more to see, like, what the metaverse has in store for us in the future.”
This summer, roughly 3,000 Newark students between the ages of 14 to 24 are working in career and technical education-related jobs as part of Newark’s summer youth employment program. The city places and pays students each year in a variety of summer jobs and internships where they get hands-on experience that provides them the skills to reach future career goals.
The push to provide more career and technical education has grown over the years, especially as the pandemic has forced schools to search for new ways to engage students who have disconnected from learning. State and local leaders have also noted the importance of having more of these programs for high school students looking for opportunities after graduation.