PORTLAND, Maine – More than 70 current and former recipients of the Mitchell Scholarship Award gathered during a personal and professional development day Saturday at the Sen. George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute. The theme for the day was How to Get a Job in a Tough Economy.

Known as “MILE II” – the Mitchell Institute Leadership Experience II – the daylong conference is a companion to a weekend retreat offered each year to Mitchell scholars.

Twenty Mitchell scholars from the University of Maine participated in the events.

Current students and young professionals gained practical tips and strategies from more seasoned professionals representing myriad industry sectors. Mitchell scholars and alums came from across the state to attend the event, including students from colleges such as Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, University of Maine at Farmington, Husson University, University of New England, St. Joseph’s College and the University of Southern Maine.

“It’s a tough job market right now, but there are still opportunities,” said Joe Foley, executive vice president for marketing at Unum and a Mitchell Institute board member, in his keynote address. “Putting your best foot forward every time really makes a difference.” Unum has hosted this event for the Mitchell scholars for four consecutive years.

Members of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council prepared and hosted the event, and were on hand to share their insights as well.

“We all know it’s difficult out there right now,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, “but getting these kinds of practical tips and strategies makes a real difference.”

Casandra Engstrom, a Mitchell scholar studying at the University of Southern Maine, said, “Wow. I feel like I am walking away from today with so many new ideas and great pieces of advice.”

Each year the Mitchell Institute awards a $5,000 scholarship to a graduating senior from every public high school in the state. When a new class of Mitchell scholars is selected this spring, a total of nearly 1,800 Maine students will have been supported with nearly $8 million in scholarship commitments.

In addition to financial support, Mitchell scholars receive numerous forms of personal support and opportunities for professional development. These resources – which include mentoring, community service, leadership development and career exploration – are available to Mitchell scholars throughout their college years and beyond.

Mitchell scholars and alums provide nearly 30,000 hours of community service each year, most of it in Maine. Three-fourths of Mitchell scholar alums live and work in Maine after graduation.

The core mission of the Mitchell Institute is to increase the likelihood that young people from every community in Maine will aspire to, pursue and achieve a college education. Each year, a Mitchell scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior from every public high school in Maine who will be attending a two-or four-year postsecondary degree program. Selection is based on academic promise, financial need and a history of community service.

Additional information about the Mitchell Institute is available at www.mitchellinstitute.org.