One point was underscored powerfully during the first year of the Summer Career Acceleration Program: High school internships are invaluable not only for the students who participate but for the local businesses that hire and train them. And that dynamic is fueling expectations for continued success as the program prepares for its second year.
The initiative – created by Pinellas County Schools and supported by the Pinellas Education Foundation – gives rising seniors a hands-on experience in the job market that can ultimately shape the course of their lives. Specifically, it offers students the opportunity to cultivate work-ready skills, increasing their chances for long-term success.
The inaugural summer culminated with these encouraging statistics: 112 students (92 percent) completed their internships and 18 of them earned certifications, with a total of 75 businesses taking part. Indeed, those numbers provide momentum for the Summer Career Acceleration Program to build upon this year, but they only tell part of the success story.
Another aspect of the program’s impact can be best conveyed through the experiences of people with first-hand experience in the realm of internships. And it can be measured in the words of a man who has been a driving force in our career technical education mission: DITEK founder Bob McIntyre, a former Chairman of the Board of the Pinellas Education Foundation, longtime board member and Foundation supporter.
“We’ve found out with every intern we’ve had at DITEK that we think we’re teaching them, but the truth is they’re teaching us just as much,” he says. “They bring youth. They bring new ideas. And they inspire us in many ways. We hope we’re giving them back as much as they’re giving us. Some of our interns have gone on to very rewarding careers in other parts of the country. And we still have several who continue to come back and work with us every summer when they’re not in school. It’s truly a win-win for the intern and the employer.”
That perspective underscores the power of summer internships and the vast potential of the Summer Career Acceleration Program as it prepares for a second year in 2020. The value of internships is well-known at Achieva Credit Union, which has cultivated countless interns as part of the company’s operation. “It’s beyond just how you work in the real world,” says Achieva Market Vice President Jim Liermann, who oversees the intern training program. “It’s learning things like, ‘How do I prioritize? How do I manage my own money? How do I manage my life?’ ”
Achieva trains and utilizes interns from Northeast High School each year, and the company has seen an array of other benefits for students in the program: learning to interview effectively, how to dress for work, interact with colleagues, become responsible, and develop communication skills. The latter asset is especially important in today’s world, in which teens have grown accustomed to communicating on a cell-phone screen via texting and social media but have not necessarily honed their face-to-face communication skills in learning how to interact with adults and peers.
It comes down to this with summer internships: a real work environment leads to real growth.
That is precisely what the first class of interns in the Summer Career Acceleration Program learned over this past summer. And it’s why so many more students – and employers – stand to benefit as the program grows in the years to come.
To view a short video highlighting the inaugural Summer Career Acceleration Program and its impact, click here.