College and Career Center Hartford insurance company

Students at the Boys and Girls Club of Scottsdale’s new College and Career Center participate in a career jeopardy game with representatives from Hartford insurance company.

A new College and Career Center opened by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale will give teens in the community access to resources to help them as they prepare to go off to college or enter the workforce.

The new center, at Boys & Girls Clubs’ Barker Branch at 2311 N. Miller Road, was made possible by a $3 million founding donation by The Hartford insurance company, which will fund 30 College and Career Centers throughout the country.

The center will focus on four main areas: career exploration and matching, first-job skills, development, work-based learning experiences and planning for the future.

Teens will be able to access a variety of resources that will help them build resumes, prepare for job interviews and apply for and select colleges.

“This is a one stop shop for them for everything college and career-related,” said Curt McReynolds, COO for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Reynolds said Boys & Girls Clubs staff will even take students on official campus visits as they prepare for college.

“I’ve gotten so much out of it already,” said Nataly Cano, a senior at Coronado High School, who said it has helped her as she prepares to attend college.

Reynolds said the center will provide important resources for teens in Scottsdale, especially because public schools in Arizona have one of the highest guidance counselor to student ratios in the country.

Reynolds said that kind of close, personal attention is important for students who could be overwhelmed and need help parsing all the information available to students on the Internet about selecting colleges or preparing for a career.

“There is lots of information available to students (on the Internet),” Reynolds said. “But it’s hard for them to digest it because they are still teenagers.”

Jessica Vera, a senior at Arcadia High School, said the resources available through the Boys & Girls Clubs have helped her with the college application process and prepared her for the workforce by providing resume classes and mock interviews.

Vera said she plans to pursue a career in dance and that she has already worked as a dance coach through Boys & Girls Clubs teaching younger kids.

Mark Wagner, vice president of Learning with The Hartford Financial Services Group, was on hand for the grand opening and said The Hartford and Boys & Girls Clubs are natural partners because both were founded in Hartford, Conn, well over 100 years ago.

Wagner said that the economy is changing because of new technologies and by 2020 five million job openings could go unfilled because of a lack of qualified workers.

“We are trying to get you ready for these jobs,” he said.

The training center could also provide a benefit to the City of Scottsdale by making it an attractive place to locate.

“The number one thing companies look for in site selection is talent and workforce,” said Mark Paratore, economic development program manager for the City of Scottsdale.