The Impact of ACE

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There are many young adults without the support or guidance to show them the large amount of professional opportunities available for them to take advantage of.

The Ace Mentor Program came to Portland eight years ago and gives high school students the opportunity to learn more about the fields of architecture, construction and engineering. The students learn directly from professionals in the industry and gain knowledge about what these career paths involve.

I have been a mentor in the ACE program since 2007 and for the past five years I have been a Lead Mentor, helping to locate spaces for the meetings, to recruit mentors and students, and to organize presentations. Currently, the Portland program works with 120 students from over 25 schools and has 66 mentors.

Mackenzie is very involved in this program and our staff members account for nearly 20 percent of the mentors — we are able to give students insight into the professions of architecture, civil and structural engineering, interior design, and are looking for a way to incorporate planning into the program.

Some of the students enter this program with the confidence that they will pursue a career on the A-C-E path while others are completely undecided and unsure of what career path they will take. Our job as mentors is not to convince our students to follow the A-C-E path; we simply show them what these jobs are like.

Not only does this program offer students a great learning opportunity, but it can also help them to network and set up invaluable connections. We currently have an intern, Abby Cridland, in our Portland office who is a former ACE program member. After seeing the strength of her talent and potential through ACE, we kept in contact and offered her a position at our office for the summer preceding her senior year at the University of Oregon.

“The ACE program helped me in so many ways. Not only did this program give me the exposure to these different fields but it helped me determine what I wanted to study in college. It also helped me build connections that resulted in my first internship at Mackenzie,” Abby says. “I believe this program not only helps students in high school, but the knowledge and experience they gain follows them well after high school to college and then into the professional world.”

Be it the students decide they are going to continue on to college with a major in architecture or engineering, or if they realize none of these professions are right for them, we see it as a win because we showed them opportunities that they may not have previously known about and helped them to narrow their choices.