On Feb. 14, the Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads unveiled the Virtual Youth Career Center (VYCC), a three-dimensional, avatar-based virtual location accessible to youth via the Internet. Built on the 3DXplorer platform, The new virtual center allows youth to interact with peer mentors and YCCHR outreach assistants to explore career options, plan educational endeavors and prepare themselves for employment.
Valentine’s Day was extra sweet this year for Opportunity Inc. as the workforce development organization introduced its newest venture to assist area youth: the Virtual Youth Career Center. The new center allows youth to interact with peer mentors and Youth Career Center outreach assistants from any computer where there is Internet access.
“The idea of the Virtual Youth Career Center is wonderful,” says 16-year-old Xavier Debrough, president of the Youth Career Center Peer Council. “The avatar is a good tool in making it less formal.” Plus, he adds, “VYCC will help users find what career(s) best interest them, what college(s) they are interested in and what skills they have.”
The VYCC was developed in collaboration with Old Dominion University and will be jointly managed. Student peer mentors from ODU along with AmeriCorps volunteers from the Youth Career Center will hold virtual “walk-in” hours in the virtual world. They will use avatars to help youth explore career fields and prepare for the job search. The system allows for communication via two-way audio and chat.
“Although the physical Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads is centrally located in Pembroke Mall, not all of our clients can make it to the center,” says Christina Brooks, YCCHR coordinator. “By adding the virtual center, we can serve any youth aged 14-21 in Hampton Roads who has access to the Internet.”
The Virtual Youth Career Center allows youth to access career-related assistance in a venue that is common to the technologically savvy youth today and is in itself a career immersion activity. “The Virtual Youth Career Center is another avenue to continue our mission to entice students to delve into career fields of the future in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM),” says Andrea Harrell, director of youth initiatives for Opportunity Inc.
To check out the new virtual center, visit www.myyouthcareercenter.org/virtualcareercenter.html
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