It’s no secret that the education system doesn’t really give students real-world jobs skills. Add to that the challenge of transitioning from 12-16 years as a student to a life with a different set of rules and expectations. What most employers want is someone with experience who can hit the ground running, a quality most recent grads lack.
Brittany Sands’ problem as a recent grad was not unique. She graduated from Campbell University with a Bachelor’s in Clinical Research. Unable to land a job in her field, she took a cashier job at CVS. While researching internships, she came across the Backpacks-to-Briefcases program. As a participant, she learned how to improve her resume, interview skills, and presentation skills. Everything learned was put into practice at a job fair organized specifically for participants. There, Brittany was offered a paid internship by Premier Research where she received valuable work experience while the program paid her wages. When the internship ended, she was hired full-time as a Procurement Strategic Sourcing Specialist.
Backpacks-to-Briefcases was first created in 2012 as a CAWD youth program. It was designed specifically to give college graduates the right combination of knowledge, skills, and practical experience to enter the job market, while mitigating training expenses employers. Eighty-six participants were placed at that time. In 2015, it was expanded as Backpacks-2-Briefcases 2.0 in partnership with NC State University, CAWD, and a $386,000 grant by Duke Energy Foundation.
Workforce development programs like Backpacks-to-Briefcases are indicative of the innovative solutions such collaborations can achieve. Participants like Brittany get a foot in the door in order to begin good careers and businesses find people with the skills they need.
To learn more about the program, contact the Capital Area Youth & Young Adult Center at