• Apprentice Learning Apprentice Learning


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Mission Statement

Apprentice Learning believes that every young person should be empowered to pursue a fulfilling work life.

We leverage career exploration to teach skills and to nurture dreams.

Apprentice Learning's goals are:

  • To inspire middle school students in urban public schools in Boston to reach into the future by engaging in the wider community for near-term preparation essential to success.
  • To give middle school students a head start on choosing a career path by strengthening their self-confidence, identifying individual strengths, and advancing maturity.
  • To give apprentice students authentic opportunities to learn good habits of work, gain a better understanding of what it takes to succeed, and learn how to measure success in one’s chosen field.
  • To develop interviewing and self-presentation skills so that students can successfully obtain jobs that are more competitive and better paying while in high school.


"All young people have dreams but not all have plans. Apprentice Learning inspires urban middle school students to nurture career dreams and make plans to achieve them."

--Helen Russell, Executive Director, Apprentice Learning


Apprentice Learning offers career education programs for eighth-grade students in Boston Public School designed to teach essential work skills and habits and expose students to different careers and adults who are passionate about their professions, so that students can make a clear connection between success in school and a satisfying, productive work life.

Established in 2012 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by Helen Russell, an experiential educator and former Outward Bound instructor who spent over a decade working in Boston Public Schools, Apprentice Learning is supported by private donors and foundations. Three schools now participate in the Apprentice Learning program: the Mission Hill and Boston Teachers Union K-8 Schools in Jamaica Plain and the Jackson/Mann K-8 School in Brighton. To date Apprentice Learning and has served more than 100 students with the help of 30 dedicated business partners in the Boston area.

Apprentice Learning offers two program components--Apprenticeships and Workplace Explorations--to teach career skills and expose middle school students to a variety of careers with local businesses. Programs focus on developing the following critical workplace skills in students: communication and self-presentation, perseverance, reliability, self-reliance, resume writing and networking. A third component, First Jobs, supports students who have completed apprenticeships in finding an enriching summer experience, both paid and unpaid, that will further career interests and skills.


Apprentice Learning’s core program offers middle-school students exposure to the culture of work through short apprenticeships. As part of their school day, students combine career-based learning in the classroom with workplace experiences alongside adults where they gain practical skills and insights needed to be successful in life. Six in-school classes help students identify their strengths and build a toolkit of communication and self-presentation techniques. An apprenticeship of six once-a-week sessions follows, in which students perform real work guided by a mentor at the company.

Participating organizations include engineering labs, hospitals, retail stores and non-profits. A partial list of work site partners include: New England Baptist Hospital, the Game Engagement Lab at Emerson College, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, WGBH, Fresh Hair Salon, Pet Cabaret, Boing Toy Shop, First Literacy, JP Knit & Stitch and The Thrift Shop of Boston, among others.

Workplace Explorations

Apprentice Learning’s Workplace Exploration program, for both seventh and eighth graders, is designed to maximize engagement and learning alongside adult professionals in the workplace through field trips. In advance of the visit, Apprentice Learning consults with work site professionals to create a mutually satisfying experience that highlights aspects of the profession that would especially appeal to a middle-school age group and one that allows students to practice classroom skills including active learning time with adult professionals and adequate time for interactions.

Destinations are based on students’ interests, and include: TD Gardens, State Street Bank and Apple Computer. In the summer of 2015, students visited Wegman’s, Brooks Brothers, Besito Mexican restaurant, Morano Gelato at Simon’s Shops at Chestnut Hill, Hill Holiday, Olin College, Ben Franklin Institute, Hill Holiday, and Allen & Gerritsen.

First Job Opportunities

After an eighth grade student completes an apprenticeship, Apprentice Learning helps students find their first paying job. Our network of Supporting Program Partners offer jobs, enrichment programs, and paid internships designed for 14-15 year olds. Many are multi-year career pathway programs that lead to college success.

In the summer of 2015, more than 70% of apprentices were accepted into paid summer internships and/or academic programs including Summer Science Academy at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Area Health Education Center, C-Town Tech Summer Internship at Charlestown High School, and Hyde Square Task Force. Additional paid jobs included Grub Street Teen Summer Fellowship Program, and Super Teens program at the Boston Centers for Youth And Families, among others. Apprentices also attended summer camp and enrichment programs including Hurricane Island Foundation's Maine Island Ecology Program, Math Power and The City School.


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