Two artists, a nonprofit program director and a shipyard foreman all gathered recently with a shared goal: to become better mentors.

This summer, they will each be taking an intern under their wings with the support of a new ACE MV program called CAMP (Community Apprenticeship and Mentorship Program). The program matched interns with 14 local employers for summer employment and to provide ongoing training and support for both groups. Employers attend workshops in professional development, and interns receive training in a variety of career-related topics.

According to Alexandra Bullen Coutts, executive director of ACE MV, the idea of training both interns and employers arose out of a mutual need.

Virginia Barbatti is leading the workshops. — Ray Ewing

“We’re hearing from a lot of employers that they could use support around...professional development, working with their staff,” she said.

CAMP is a pilot program created by ACE MV, a nonprofit that facilitates a variety of educational and occupational programming. Although CAMP is open to people of any age, the program’s focus is on young adults.

The chance for young adults to explore careers is difficult nationwide, but the issue is especially acute on the Vineyard, said CAMP’s program director Sonja Josephson. She pointed to a 2020 MV Youth report that detailed how high schoolers and year-round residents between the ages of 19 and 25 on the Island lack support for post-secondary education careers.

“Once folks are out of high school, they don’t really have a safety net in terms of getting community support for career exploration and development,” Ms. Josephson said.

Artist Althea Freeman Miller. — Ray Ewing

“Not only is this a vehicle for supporting career explorations for participants, it’s also an opportunity for employers to hopefully build long term relationships with folks who can become employees,” she added.

Ms. Josephson has worked with many Island businesses during her time at ACE MV. In addition to starting CAMP, she runs a program called School of Offseason Survival, a series of courses and workshops to help build a variety of skills, many of which are geared towards supporting small businesses.

Later this summer the prospective interns will be matched with their mentors, but for the employers, CAMP is already in session. Professional development workshops started last week, led by Virginia Barbatti, who works as both a management consultant and as Island Grown Initiative’s director of development.

“I think we all see the potential of a program like this,” Ms. Barbatti said.

As the group of employers gathered last week, they chatted about how the summer intern interviews were going and how impressive some of the applicants were.

“This is my first time ever being the boss,” said Taylor Stone, who represented First Friday VH, which holds outdoor events throughout the summer that showcase artists and performers.

Ms. Barbatti started the session by asking the group to reflect on a summer job that was important to them.

Lance Nelligan, yard foreman at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. — Ray Ewing

Lance Nelligan, yard foreman at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, said that getting to work in a boat yard when he was young was a formative experience.

“Working on the water is a very specific job and it takes a specific kind of person,” he said.

The professional development workshops with Ms. Barbatti aim to teach prospective employers how to set clear goals for their interns and how to model receiving feedback.

Ms. Barbatti also emphasized that interns should not only learn the specific requirements of their position, they should also come away with a variety of skills that could serve them anywhere, such as the ability to work with others and paying attention to detail.

“You want to be in the mindset of how can I move this person forward in their career,” she explained.

Ms. Coutts and Ms. Josephson said they are already looking to the future, with hopes to expand the program.

“At the end, we’ll have a whole bunch of data and employer and intern understand what worked from this pilot,” Ms. Coutts said.

She hopes to do a similar program in the fall, but with apprenticeships instead of internships.

To learn more about CAMP, visit