Building a Pathway to a Career

ADM honors local high school graduates who embark on next step toward Transportation and Mechanical Careers

The degree-to-career pathway isn't the only route to a prosperous future. Through building skills, changing mindsets, mentorship, and providing access to opportunities, many young professionals can develop sustainable and ever-evolving careers that can lead to success through job-based learning.

Today, more high school students are finding higher value through on-the-job training over postsecondary options, including four-year college degree programs. While college isn't the path for every student, trade industries need talented young adults who can become a part of a thriving workforce.

ADM Career Pathways

Decatur Public Schools District 61, in Decatur, Ill., is seeing the importance of celebrating those who are taking this route through its Career Pathway and Innovative program. On May 7, Decatur Public Schools hosted a career signing day in downtown Decatur to honor students who signed certificates of acceptance to employment after completing the program. 

The Career Pathway and Innovative program partners with Richland Community College and local employers to provide on-the-job training and internships for students. Among the newer partnerships is ADM's Trucking Division who trained three Decatur students this past year.

ADM Career Pathways

"We know the average age of someone getting into the Trucking industry is 40 and there is a nationwide driver shortage. We knew the importance of trying to attract more drivers needed to start sooner and we put ideas to action," said Shannon Jedlicka, ADM Trucking Recruiting and Compliance Specialist. "We worked with many ADM team members to ensure viability. Legal and safety teams were heavily involved throughout the building stages of what we needed the program to be, and we are starting a pipeline of talent in our Trucking Division’s washbay and office."

The students, two who worked in the ADM Trucking washbay and one providing back office support, built their work skills over a 12-month period. They participated in a multi-phase program that included both technical and non-technical skills needed for full-time employment in the Transportation and Mechanical Trade fields upon graduating from high school.

The students became proficient in various skills, while at the same time, received high school credit and earned a paid hourly wage from ADM.

"We also had them shadow other departments to learn more about the business and explore other career options within ADM," Jedlicka said. "They joined us at career fairs and at schools to speak with their peers about the program. It's been really fun to see them grow in every way throughout the program."

ADM Career Pathways

The students were also provided mentors throughout each phase of the program.

"It was an option offered to me," said Jeremy Hood, a graduate of MacArthur High School. "I went to ADM because I felt like I'd try something new. I'm proud to have a career doing something that's needed in the world. This program helped me focus better in school too, I used to work after school until close and it was hard to fit in time to study. Being able to work during school hours really made everything better for me."

ADM Career Pathways

As part of the festivities during the career signing day, 18 students were recognized. While the co-op program is a key building block to introducing young people to rewarding and successful careers within ADM Trucking, the program serves valuable for youth members within the community.

"They can start making money now and have stability, or wait," said Brandon Rick, Transportation Work Stream Lead for ADM. "In five years, instead of being in debt, they could own a house. It's so exciting to see how we can impact the trajectory of peoples' lives and help them build a legacy. A current ADM Truck Driver recently told us, 'I didn't know that opportunities like ADM existed for people like me,' and that is why programs like this are so important, to let our communities know that ADM opportunities are out there for anyone."

Other ADM departments have expressed interest in taking part in the program. "ADM Trucking had to have everyone on board at every level to ensure the students safety and make sure we were always doing the right thing," Rick said. "We're seeing how this program can build successful careers, not just as drivers, but those wishing to work in an office or other operations as well."

"We are so grateful to be able to continue this partnership within the community and have accepted two new students with great potential into the 2024-25 Co-Op Program within ADM Trucking," says Jedlicka. ADM is also starting an Instrumental High School Co-Op Program for the next academic year. "We look forward to seeing the students thrive as we nurture their growth through classroom and hands-on learning of technical and non-technical skills," said Lisa Kitchens, HR Manager, Workforce Development for ADM. Through the program, students will becoming proficient in various instrumentation fundamentals while receiving high school credits and an hourly wage from ADM. To learn more about ADM early career opportunities, visit