WARREN, Ohio (The Business Journal) — Nasheema Wade always wanted to work with children. But after pursuing an education in nursing for two years, she realized she could have a “full force impact” in the classroom, she said.

“Education is really the key of it all,” Wade said. “It starts in the classroom, so being able to work with the kids on the one-on-one level and just seeing them sponge-in that information and retain everything and the growth process is just amazing.”

This summer, Wade participated in the Inspiring Minds inaugural Summer Career Development program, in which she worked in Warren City Schools as an instructor and instructor’s assistant. During the eight weeks of the program, she worked with students from Pre-K through high school.

The experience inspired Wade to switch majors, and this fall she will begin her first year at Youngstown State University in Early Childhood Education and Intervention. It’s a change that she said would not have been possible without Inspiring Minds, which she’s been involved with since the eighth grade.

“This summer I found my purpose and I’m looking forward to working with the kids and looking forward to teaching,” she said. “I wanted to test the waters in education, and they gave me the boat to go out.”

Wade is one of 19 students who took part in the career development program. Some of the students were on-hand for a program showcase Monday, during which they met with some 40 community members, Inspiring Minds staff and the organization’s partners.

The main purpose of the program is to show students that there are employment opportunities in the Mahoning Valley, and to connect them with employers who need to fill those jobs, said the program’s coordinator, Marvin Logan. The program gives students “valuable and relevant career experience” throughout the summer while earning a decent wage and experiencing being a young, career professional in the Mahoning Valley, Logan said.

The program placed 19 students ages 17 to 26 in paid internships with nine participating employers. Most of the students worked 30 to 40 hours weekly for up to eight weeks. Outside of the workplace, students participated in professional and personal development workshops, seminars and roundtables to learn to be a “holistic individual, a holistic citizen,” he said. It also gave them relevant job skills, such as writing a resume, interviewing and setting up a LinkedIn page.

Read the full story at BusinessJournalDaily.com, WKBN.com, WFMJ.com, TribToday.com, and Warren.org.