November 10th saw the second annual iTrades Career Day at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center (NIETC) in northeast Portland. The event was run by iUrban Teen, a national education program founded in Portland by Deena Pierott in 2011, with the mission to expose and inspire underrepresented youth to become tomorrow’s business and technology leaders.

The iTrades Career Day focused on giving the teens in attendance a taste of the trades and apprenticeship programs in the Portland area. Teaching the teens about the trades were those from the trades themselves, volunteers from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48, the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters (UA) Local 290, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 701, and the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

The event was a success, engaging the teens in an educational opportunity they may not have come across if it weren’t for the program. In fact, the biggest problem heard from the teens was that the groups couldn’t make it to every single workshop.

Each group participated in a 50-80 minute workshop, where they would do a hands on activity lead by one of the volunteers from the local union. After receiving the initial instructions, the students would get to work, with constant help and supervision from the volunteers, ensuring that the teens were able to complete the project and eventually see the fruition of their work.

The day ended with what all kids want, pizza and prizes. The teens all met together in Training Center auditorium where, after eating, they were given the task of creating an invention which would benefit their community. Once time was up, each group explained what they would do to help their community.

Finally, a raffle was held. The prizes the student were able to claim included headphones, a drone, and even a laptop. By the end of the day, when those from iUrban Teen asked the students what they had thought of the event, their only complaint was not being able to do workshops like this at school.