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STEER: Students Transforming Expectations & Exploring Real Opportunities

The STEER (Students Transforming Expectations & Exploring Real Opportunities) Program is a free program launched in 2019 to help rising 10th and 11th-grade students in Orange County realize available workforce opportunities in Orange County. This program helps young people (who are likely to remain in Orange County after high school) develop leadership and career skills they can use in local careers. The program aims to build connections that will cultivate future opportunities for apprenticeships and part-time jobs for students in the area.


STEER is a Workforce Pipeline Development Initiative presented by the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce and Orange County 4-H and is sponsored by BB&T, now Truist and the NC Cooperative Extension. 

Program Activities

  • Selected students meet one day each month during the school year to…
  • Visit industries present in Orange County to learn about local career opportunities in agriculture, hospitality, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, energy, and more.
  • Build teamwork and leadership skills.
  • Better understand connections between career clusters and workforce readiness.
  • Develop interview skills and other soft skills necessary for young professionals to be successful in a new job upon graduation from high school.
  • Topics will include, but not be limited to: time management, self-motivation, leadership, personal finance, communication, and attitude.
  • We plan to select up to 14 students for the upcoming school year.

Who Are We Looking For?

  • Public, private, and homeschool students who will be entering 10th or 11th grade in the upcoming school year.
  • Students who may not have yet selected an education pathway for after graduation and who are interested in exploring local career options.  This program will emphasize technical trades, community college programs, technical degrees, and on-the-job training programs.
  • Students who anticipate remaining in the Orange County area after graduation from high school
  • Minimum GPA:  2.25 unweighted (negotiable)
  • Students who may be involved in a Career & Technical Student Organization (CTSO).
  • Students who have not yet selected a career cluster.
  • Motivated students from underserved populations with challenges that may be preventing them from succeeding academically.

How to Apply?

  • Students will complete an online application through the button below.
  • The application will include:
    • Basic Contact Information
    • Extracurricular Experiences (CTSOs, sports, etc.)
    • Volunteer Experiences
    • Part-Time Jobs (both current and past)
    • Why do you think you would be a good fit for this program?  Upload a two to three paragraph statement.  In lieu of writing, you may also submit a drawing, video, slide presentation, or audio file to support your application. 
    • Please provide names and e-mail addresses for TWO people who can complete a recommendation for you*.  One must be an academic reference and the other may be a personal reference (coach, clergy, mentor, etc.).

For more information, read the documents below or please contact Kim Tesoro at or Jonathan Smith at or 919-245-2057.

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