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MCESC Provides Students with Virtual Resources to Investigate Careers, Trades, and Schools

Phil Merlo and Paul Poulos, SRO officers at Boardman Local Schools, will be part of the MCESC Career Counselors' January Virtual Career Exploration into Law Enforcement Careers


Canfield, Ohio-  Mahoning County Educational Service Center’s Career Counseling team provides students from more than 17 districts with the resources to investigate a number of career, trade, and school options.


When restrictions on visitation to districts and safe social distancing protocols were put into place, the Mahoning County Educational Service Center (MCESC) Career Counselors stepped up to the challenge of changing the interface of career exploration events. Virtual platforms have provided the ability for MCESC Career Counselors to connect students with businesses, schools, and professionals in a virtual career, trades, and college fair and its new Virtual Career Exploration discussion series.


This month, MCESC Career Counselors are launching the Virtual Career Exploration discussion series, featuring live conversations with professionals in a new field each month. January’s highlighted career field is law enforcement, with guests including a Special Agent from the FBI as well as Officers Paul Poulos and Phil Merlo of the Boardman Police Department who serve as School Resource Officers at Boardman schools.


Each month, MCESC Career Counseling aligned districts will be invited to Zoom conversations with specialists in a given field. These interactive sessions will include Live Q&A with student and teacher participants. Each session will be recorded to allow for teachers in these districts to access the materials in their classrooms at a later date.


“We’re very excited about this new platform,” says Robert Eggleston, Lead Career Counselor for the MCESC. “A virtual discussion will allow us to safely share the knowledge, experiences, and discussions of these experts with a much greater number of students than one guest has ever been able to reach. Each student we serve will have access to more first-hand information than ever before with the addition of recorded sessions into our database.”


This follows on the heels of JA Inspire, the virtual career, trade, and college fair hosted through the collaboration of Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley, MCESC, and Trumbull County ESC. The JA Inspire event engaged more than 1,000 students from 35 area schools during the live portion of the event on November 19. The event drew individual learners, entire classrooms, and virtual learners to its webinars and booths.


JA Inspire hosted speakers from schools, businesses, and skilled trade organizations for webinars covering various topics including soft skills, financial aid, and other career-focused subject matter. Students also had the ability to discuss opportunities and ask questions to representatives at the more than 50 booths representing skilled trades, businesses, schools, and organizations.


Through these resources, students walked away with knowledge about fields and positions that are in demand, and advice on how to reach their goals. Several students found information about financial aid and soft skills to be valuable takeaways from the webinars. One student mentioned discovering an opportunity that he or she didn’t know existed, but was interested in pursuing after learning about it through the JA Inspire virtual event.


To further draw on the excitement, students had the opportunity to earn prizes by visiting JA Inspire booths and participating in webinars. Five Amazon gift cards were awarded to students who earned points from their participation in the event, including two students from Rootstown, two students from Brookfield and a student from Beaver Local. 


Teachers, students, and parents have access to the JA Inspire platform until February 19. Students can view recorded webinars and collect information from the booths at


The MCESC Career Counseling team is using these virtual events as a bridge for their in-person career exploration courses. The team works with students in grades 5-12 on employability, soft skills, and job shadow opportunities. 


“We are pleased to continue our service to our districts in these expanded platforms,” says Eggleston. “The world keeps spinning, and students are still moving forward making career decisions and setting goals. We are confident we are providing them with connections and tools to thoughtfully explore a number of opportunities to help them make informed decisions about their futures. We’ll continue to innovate with engaging solutions to provide these students with the resources they need to do so.”


JA Inspire provides students and classrooms the opportunity to explore careers, trades, and colleges in a digital environment.