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D-Lab: Setting free the catch 101 of youth unemployment

Building skills are needed to find a job, but by having a job, you can very quickly gain skills. Breaking out of this catch 101 is tough, but possible. I experienced this during my undergraduate years at the University of California, Davis, where I participated in a course called D-Lab. This course (, modeled after a similar program at MIT ( allowed diverse student teams to conduct pro-bono feasibility work for non-profit or low income organizations around the world, mainly with regards to issues in developing countries. This model has been very impactful, and I believe holds fruit for other parts of the world.

Photo of Edward Silva
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Although not necessarily research but personal experience, this opportunity gave me the chance to gain outside experience in development work (as well as understand how it is to serve a client), it gave the organization free consulting from trained and qualified students, and it built a model at the university that created a better pathway for students to graduate and actually have a clearer pathway towards employment. Spread over three academic quarters, this course gave students the skill set to conduct a feasibility study (quarter 1), real world experience working with a partner organization (quarter 2), and then the opportunity to go into the field and work with that partner (quarter 3). This win-win-win helped students like me move forward. This is especially important because it gave students the understanding of how it would be to consult for a project, which is otherwise difficult to get into. This simple model, which I refer to as "D-Lab" is a great way to educate for careers and issues that are relevant.

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Photo of Job Oyebisi

Wow, this is a great model to equip university students with skill outside the classroom. Good work.