Career Opportunities Initiative

Work-based learning experiences can have a powerful impact on student’s career outcomes. Specific practices have been proven to help students get the education and training they need to secure a good job and lead a fulfilling life, including guidance and coaching, career skill building, exploration and immersion, connections to employment, and financial and other resources that help make education affordable.


Helping to reduce income and wealth disparities between first-generation, low-income college students and their more affluent peers

The TRIO Career Development Program (TCDP) provides TRIO Student Support Services and TRIO McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program students with the skills and knowledge they need to land competitive jobs successfully.

Program Services:

  • Targeted, intentional coaching from paid Career Development Mentors trained to deliver supportive accountability using goal-focused tools
  • Opportunities for supplemental skill development (virtual, self-paced) aimed at preparing students to compete for paid internships successfully, career acceleration programs (CAPs), and other employment opportunities
  • Career exploration, planning, strengths assessment
  • Connections to employers, TRIO alumni, and other professionals
  • COE endorsement of students who successfully meet TCDP benchmarks

Starting the preparation process early is critical to successfully landing an internship. Applications for corporate summer internships and CAPs typically open early in the fall of the year before, and most positions are filled by the end of November. This means students need to start at least a year in advance.


For TRIO Undergraduate Programs

COE seeks TRIO program collaboration

Become a COI Talent Sourcing Partner

COE invites all TRIO Student Support Services and TRIO McNair Scholar programs to become talent-sourcing partners for the TRIO Career Development Program. As a talent-sourcing partner, your students will be eligible to apply to participate in the Career Development Program and other COI-sponsored activities. For more information contact Tommy Walls, COE director of Alumni Affairs and Career Opportunities, at [email protected] or (202) 347-7430, ext. 306.

Quotes from students regarding the program:

  • “The COI program has been an invaluable experience for me, offering lessons and insights I wouldn’t have encountered elsewhere in my career development. It taught me to communicate effectively and professionally with my college professors and interviewers. Moreover, the program opened up numerous internship opportunities for me.”
  • “More than anything, I feel more confident heading into interviews after completing the Career Readiness Program. The modules encouraged me to reflect on areas in which I wanted to improve and gave great tips on how to make those improvements.”
  • “The COI Program has taught me a lot about how to be a productive adult in the working world.  My mentor and the modules together made me a lot more confident in my ability to successfully create a body of work to get me a good job as well as prepared me for real interviews by doing mock interviews.”

Quotes from students regarding their mentor

  • “My COI Mentor, has been a beacon of guidance and support, playing a crucial role in my personal and professional growth. His feedback on my coursework, for instance, shed light on the nuances of crafting compelling cover letters and resumes, helping me hone vital career skills. Through this program and mentorship, I’ve carved a clearer path in my career and gained a deeper understanding of my field.” 
  • “My mentor and all of the COI staff who I got to meet were welcoming and supportive and clearly cared about the students’ success.”
  • 96% of student survey respondents agreed (39%) or strongly agreed (57%) with the statement: I am satisfied with the support I get from my mentor.
Additional Information

Disseminate COE-provided information to students about the value of paid internships, the positive impact of intentional career coaching on career outcomes, and the Career Opportunities Initiative. Identify students interested in/would benefit from participating in a paid internship in Summer 2025 or a multi-year employer-sponsored Career Acceleration Program (CAP) beginning in Summer 2025, refer them to the TRIO Career Development Program, and assist with application completion. Internship Applicants must have a 2.5+ GPA, 60-90 credits by June 2025. CAP/LDP Applicants must have a 3.0+ GPA, bachelor’s degree by June 2025. Identify one or more project staff to be the point of contact with COI staff and mentors. COI staff and mentors will communicate with staff contacts regarding students’ progress in the Career Development Program. Project staff contacts and COI staff will work collaboratively to advance students’ success. Participate in the initiative evaluations and provide feedback for program improvement throughout. Recommend local employers to be COE employer partners.

For Employers


We recruit TRIO students from various institutions, including HBCUs and R1 research universities

TCDP prepares students to meet the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) employment competency standards. All participants must demonstrate these competencies before referral for internships or full-time employment.

TCDP recruits TRIO students from various institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and R1 research universities.

COE is partnering with public and private employers to provide pathways to competitive careers for FGLI students through internships, career acceleration programs, and full-time jobs. Students participating in TCDP receive:

  • Skills, strengths, and interest assessments
  • Career exploration experiences
  • Cognitive and technical skill development courses
  • Intensive support from Career Development Mentors


Customize a Talent Sourcing Partnership to Meet Your Diversity Hiring Needs

COE customizes talent-sourcing partnerships to meet individual employer goals. Customization options include:

  • Select institutions
  • Specific Majors
  • Year of study
  • Geographic preferences
  • Internships/job postings
  • Direct marketing
  • Screened referrals

COE will pre-screen candidates based on your internship or job requisition profile to find the best match. We also offer employers consultations to support the successful recruitment and retention of FGLI talent. Contact Tommy Walls at [email protected] to establish a talent-sourcing partnership.

Trio programs

Who is Served

Federal TRIO Programs (Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math/Science, Veterans’ Upward Bound, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers, and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program) help students to overcome economic, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education.


faces of trio

Success Stories

Jonathan Solomon

Talent Search, Case Western Reserve University

Anthony Webster

McNair Scholars, Jackson State University

Melonie Sexton

McNair Scholars, University of Central Florida

John Paul Abenojar

McNair Scholars, San Diego State University

Kevin Wright

Student Support Services, Northern Arizona University

Cristóbal Garcia

Student Support Services, University of Northern Colorado

Jonathan Berenguer

Student Support Services, Lehman College – CUNY

Tracie Sanchez

Upward Bound, Abraham Lincoln High School

Support Us

If you are a student support services professional, thank you. You are an unsung hero for all the good that you do, and surely you know by now that COE has your back.



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