Every year, more than one million students drop out of high school in the U.S.—that’s one almost every 26 seconds. Millions more lack skills to be successful after high school. One major stumbling block between graduating high school and entering the workforce is simply a lack of information. Adults tell young people to “dream big” and “shoot for the stars” but often stop short of showing them the first steps along a lifelong career path.
Enter Generation T, a career-exploration program designed by T-Mobile in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and After-School All-Stars. By immersing students in a real-world professional environment and introducing them to a variety of desirable skill sets, Generation T helps youth connect the dots between school and career.
Since launching in October 2017, T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile have hosted more than 5,800 youth at 500 Generation T events at T-Mobile retail stores, call centers and business offices across the country. This Spring, T-Mobile hosted a supercharged version of the program called Generation T Takeover, which involved 60 events, 1,200 students and 600 T-Mobile employees in a whirlwind 30-day span. Feedback from these programs has been overwhelmingly positive.
“T-Mobile has made me think about all my career options,” said one Generation T participant, “and I now see T-Mobile as a jumping-off point for my future career.”
At each Generation T event, students aged 11-18 spend two info-packed hours exploring careers in tech and product innovation. They begin by spending time with Mobile Experts in the retail environment, learning how to interact with customers, ask questions and determine solutions, and they get hands-on demos of current handset models and features as well as emerging technologies like VR and 5G. Store managers take them behind the scenes of running a small store to show them the art of scheduling, performance tracking and inventory organizing.
“Generation T benefits Boys & Girls Clubs participants not only because they enjoy the interaction with T-Mobile’s super-engaged employees, but also because it inspires them to think about career possibilities that they may not have previously considered,” said Allison Clarke, Boys & Girls Clubs of America Account Relationship Director. “Workforce readiness remains a priority for BGCA and our Clubs, and Generation T is a great example of the collaborative effort with T-Mobile that has brought career exploration to life in a meaningful way.”
Along with Mobile Experts, members of T-Mobile management and leadership attend to discuss career paths in fields as varied as design, marketing, engineering, writing and accounting. And they make sure to take time to listen—at these events, youth talk about their experiences and help brainstorm ideas for new products and services. The result is a give-and-take between youth and T-Mobile team members that ends up inspiring everyone involved.
Beyond its educational component, Generation T is a chance for youth to break out of their normal routines and simply have fun together outside the classroom. The value of young people connecting with enthusiastic, energetic professionals, some of whom aren’t much older than they are, is difficult to measure. But the proof is clear.
“They walk out of Generation T smiling, confident and feeling accomplished,” said Nataly Rodriguez, general manager of T-Mobile’s Signature Store in Santa Monica. “Sometimes Generation T is the highlight of their day, week or month because we don’t know what’s happening at home.”
Generation T is just one example of T-Mobile’s support of youth empowerment. The company also hosts the annual Changemaker Challenge, a national competition that assists young people in making direct positive change in their communities; and EmpowerED, an effort to assist students with homework by providing off-campus devices and data plans to students at eligible schools and districts.
And career exploration doesn’t stop with youth. T-Mobile provides part- and full-time employees with education, career and personal development opportunities, including benefits like free tuition at 10 different universities for full-time employees and tuition assistance at two universities for part-time employees. Like Generation T, these programs have led to some very inspiring stories.