I am fortunate that I get to teach my students for three years straight from 10th through 12th grade as their career teacher in the Technology Academy at Foshay Learning Center, a low-income K-12 span school in South Los Angeles. Everything taught within the academy is meant to reflect life outside the classroom in order to build marketable skills that will help the students succeed with college and careers. One of our highest goals is to give every student an internship experience. When students have to be responsible and communicate on their own without the aide of a teacher, it is the most powerful way to connect what they are learning in class to what will be expected of them when they have to find jobs on their own.
The LA Fund has become a great partner for my students with TIP, The Intern Project. They offered five students at Foshay Learning Center amazing internships this past summer at top companies like Mattel, Kaiser Permanente, and Fullscreen, to name a few. The lasting impact on the students is apparent all the time. The students have all come back glowing with confidence, armored with skills from the experience, and a powerful entry on their resume that will no doubt impress and open up opportunities for them.
The poise that the students have acquired is readily apparent when they are asked to speak in class, present to a crowd, or meet professionals when out on a field trip or listening to a guest speaker. In fact, my student Darryl Beason (pictured above), who interned at ATOM Factory Pop Water this summer, was offered an internship on the spot when he visited a major advertising agency with our class. The executives told me they were looking for a summer intern and instantly honed in on Darryl when they heard him ask questions about the company and became more interested when they learned about his previous experience this past summer.
The effects of the internships will just keep paying forward to these students. It is hard to imagine how it will be in a professional setting until you experience it for yourself. My students also don’t have a large community at home to help them network and achieve these entry-level positions so assistance to locate opportunities is key as well as teaching the students how to look for and take advantage of these opportunities. While I think my students create impressive projects in our class (their work samples on their online digital portfolios are proof), nothing can really take the place of that first impressive job on your resume to make other future jobs take notice.
The LA Fund’s The Intern Project opens doors to the students, builds experience and confidence, and puts some money in their pockets at the same time—all amazing things that cannot be replicated in the classroom. We are hopeful that through The Intern Project and the Foshay Learning Center’s Technology Academy’s own connections that we will be able to get half of our juniors into internships this coming summer.