Fanwood, NJ-based Chelsea Senior Living has partnered with local high schools to expose students to careers with which they may not be familiar, helping them find a professional path while also giving them a glimpse into the senior living industry.

The program, for high school students at any grade level, began when company CEO Roger Bernier discovered that there was an opportunity to connect with students looking to figure out their next step professionally.

“Roger set up a date and time for us to come by and present a little about our company, and it took off from there,” said Jason Kahn, the director of communications at Chelsea. “[Roger] is really the one who lit the spark for this program.”

And after only three weeks of the program, Chelsea now has five high school students involved in its communities.

Most recently, Bound Brook High School and East Brunswick High School students met with Chelsea staff members at the Bridgewater community in New Jersey to discuss career interests and opportunities.

“While some students might be interested in more common professions like nursing, this program also gives them opportunities to look at areas they are not aware of, like dietary and memory care roles,” Kahn said.

Chelsea offers a variety of positions in nursing, business administration, food services, medication management, building maintenance, sales and marketing, finance and recreation. Each senior living department head oversees the students involved in their areas. The department heads are responsible for making sure that the exposure the students are receiving will be beneficial in developing their careers, according to the company.

Kahn emphasized that the students are getting real-time working experience at the communities. He said he hopes the students will continue in the program through the summer and fall.

Chelsea, which has 22 communities, including Mt. Bethel Village for adults with special needs, and Kahn said that the program benefits the company as well during this period of work shortage.

“I think that it’s important, in this day and time, where workers are hard to come by and hiring was difficult for a lot of companies, this program provides a great outlet for senior living providers,” Kahn said.

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