Thanks to a grant from the Department of Labor 13 students at Germantown High School have spent the spring semester gaining workplace experience.
According to organizers and participants, the internships don’t just offer practical experience, they help students stay invested in school, and their own future.
“If I don’t stay busy I’ll be bored,” said Felicia Orrell, a senior at Germantown High School who is interning at Center In The Park.
Orrell dreams of a career in fashion merchandising. She enjoys modeling but right now, her focus in getting into college.
The WorkReady internships are part of Philadelphia Youth Network program.
It allows high school students to gain working world exposure and an understanding of how school is connected to economic success, said Alan Parker, Career Coordinator at Germantown High School. The program gives students the opportunity to learn advanced skills and develop their interests, according to Parker.
“These students want to be challenged,” he said.
The Greater Germantown Business Association is also working with the program. Interim President, John Churchville, see the internships as a way to help young people and the future of the community at the same time.
“I am deeply concerned about the youth in our community,” he said. “We need to help them get every single opportunity possible.”
In order to be in the program, students must maintain a grade point average of a C or better, and they cannot be late or absent from school. The program tries to match student placements with their interests, and students receive training on everything from resumes and cover letters to work ethics.
Orrell realizes the internship she has now will be instrumental in helping her get a job in the future. She says she has learned computer programs such as Excel and the value of networking at Center In The Park.
Orrell said she loves the hands-on events at Center In The Park such as line dancing, and having the opportunity to become a part of a new and supportive professional environment is already paying off.
“My mentor Brannon Johnson is a good role model,” she said. “One day I was feeling overwhelmed with school work, my internship and another part-time job… she took me out to lunch and told me not to give up.”
For Center in The Park, which has a mission of promoting positive aging and community connections, Johnson said the program is a natural fit.
“We are really committed to fostering a sense of community. It is one of the reasons we are participating in the internship program,” Johnson said. “The beauty of the program is that it allows us to build a relationship with the interns… our job is to help her get to where she needs to be.”