TYNGSBORO (CBS) - Young people are always looking for a career path with potential for growth. Local companies are looking to fill a lot of open positions right now. A man who works for CVS understands both of those needs, and he's created a program at his alma mater that makes jobs happen.
What looks like a neighborhood CVS isn't a typical CVS store. The CVS inside Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsboro is one of the company's "Workforce Innovation and Talent Centers."
It was built by students and designed to train students like junior Kai In from Lowell with skills that will get them a job right now.
"I wanted to get ahead of the game for what I want to do here," Kai told WBZ-TV.
The co-op program was the brainchild of Jon DaSilva, a Greater Lowell alum who is now a Senior Workforce Manager for CVS New England.
"I graduated from Lowell Tech," DaSilva said. "The biggest thing for me is I always tell them 'I was you.'"
Students from carpentry and other departments designed, built and painted it. Now marketing students stock shelves and operate the store on their own.
Students like Kai work at the mock CVS and then students, faculty and staff can shop there. During the course of a school year, it usually makes about $5,000 and then that money goes toward a college scholarship for a Greater Lowell student who works for CVS.
"What I love about these programs is that I get to meet the kids," said DaSilva. "I met Kai his sophomore year and got him a part-time job. He's learning leadership skills and problem solving."
But for DaSilva and the students, it adds up to more than just a paycheck.
McKenzie Schiavone, a 22-year-old District Performance Coordinator says, "I've been able to build wonderful connections at CVS."
McKenzie started as a pharmacy tech at 17 and, for a time, her family experienced homelessness. DaSilva was always there.
"CVS was the most stable thing I had," McKenzie says. "Jon helped me by always checking in, popping in to my stores, called or emailed me. Even after I graduated he kept up with me consistently"
The program means a lot to DaSilva. "It's one thing to offer employment opportunities at CVS, it's another to go in to a school, meet the kids, talk to them, build a relationship and say you know what? We have an opportunity for you," he said.
DaSilva says since the program started in 2015 the company has hired over 150 students from Greater Lowell Tech, but he enjoys working with Co-op programs at all the voc-tech high schools in the state.
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