Middle and high school students involved with Communities In Schools can often find a respite from the sweltering heat of the summer months—one that actually helps them gain valuable life skills. That’s because many Communities In Schools local affiliates provide summer career readiness programs. For students, that translates into experiencing the business world by taking on summer internships, jobs or job shadowing opportunities.
This summer, 21 students from Communities In Schools of the Heart of Texas are being placed in local businesses as part of a program founded by a local workforce development board. Student employees will work approximately 200 hours over nine weeks in nonprofits, schools and government agencies. This marks the fourth year the affiliate has helped find students work and skills-improvement opportunities.
For Imani Lewis, a Communities In Schools of Atlanta alumnus who has completed a number of internships, the experiences have proven invaluable. She is currently interning at New Leaders, a national nonprofit focused on developing effective leadership to ensure the best education for minority and impoverished students. Her internship also reinforces one of Communities In Schools’ basic tenets—providing students with an opportunity to give back to their community.
“As an intern, whether for a semester or a summer, you will gain innumerable skills, make countless connections, expand your network and learn what type of workplace suits you best,” said Lewis. “And you get a taste of the real world outside of high school and college.”
Career training can take place during the school year as well, providing a foundation of skills that can help students gain future summer employment. There is community involvement in career guidance at Communities In Schools of Randolph County, N.C., as well. They work with the Arcade-Trinity Chamber of Commerce to give middle school students opportunities to learn what skills are needed for various jobs. The program typically takes place in February, on Groundhog Day, and involves students “shadowing” employees to gain an insider’s perspective. Some of the companies that participate include banks, real estate agencies and nonprofit organizations. This past year, the 65 students who participated in the half-day program went to approximately 35 businesses to see up close what kind of education is required to work at companies such as the Guil-Rand Fire Department and Archdale Drug, a local pharmacy. Some students even got to watch a veterinarian perform surgery.
While students participating in the job shadowing program get to experience short-term exposure to the business world, Randolph County Executive Director Sandi Norman said the local affiliate has been talking about developing an internship program to give students a more in-depth career readiness experience.
During the past school year, 39 juniors and seniors from Communities In Schools of Marietta/Cobb County, Ga., got a taste of their possible futures by participating in job shadowing and internship programs. Working with the Marietta Rotary Club and the Cobb Chamber’s Partners in Education program, students received Dress for Success clothing vouchers and worked “mini” (three- to five-day) internships on job sites such as courthouses and utility companies. The program, now in its fifth year, not only speaks to the value of involvement with local civic organizations and businesses, said Communities In Schools of Marietta/Cobb County Executive Director Carol Fey, it also offers students the opportunity to develop their career goals.
“Internships and job shadowing give students a true idea of what specific careers entail,” she added. “They get to have a real-life work experience, with the emphasis on what education they need.”
Placing students in summer jobs and internship programs is just one example of the commitment Communities In Schools has to empowering students to stay in school and achieve in life.