Families in Miami-Dade County who struggled through the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic – through the school and business closures, stimulus and small business loan delays, and general claustrophobia of being stuck at home – with few, if any, options to get out the real world, now have a new challenge directly ahead of them. Summertime!
As the county moves forward with reopening plans, families still have to figure out how to reopen their family to society. Wouldn’t it be nice to get your kids real life experiences in different workplaces with an internship? Better yet, a paid internship! Of course, but how could that possibly be an option in today’s pandemic environment?
Believe it or not, it is!
For the past half-decade the Summer Youth Internship Program (SYIP) has brought together The Children’s Trust, Miami- Dade County, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the South Florida Workforce Investment Board and the Foundation for New Education Initiatives to sponsor about 3,000 paid student internships annually at a variety of organizations over the summer. Even with the coronavirus shuttering much of our outdoor lives in the spring and threatening to do the same in the summer, the internship program – which offers college or high school credits as well as the financial stipend – is moving forward with virtual internships.
“The summer internship program is pushing ahead as we all try to find the new normal and the county reopens in phases,” said Donovan Lee-Sin, chief public policy and engagement officer for The Children’s Trust.
“We continue to encourage employers to participate in the program by providing remote internship opportunities,” he added. He said that interested students and employers should visit the program website at Miami.GetMyInterns.org while there was still time to sign up.
For employers, Lee-Sin said the student interns represent a highly-skilled, motivated and free labor force that can help many businesses jump start operations after what has been a devasting quarantine period. Getting employers to sign up was especially critical since there are many more possible interns looking for jobs than jobs themselves at this point, he said. There is also more funding to pay for the internships.
He went on to say that many if not most businesses could use student interns over for 5-weeks over the summer – the amount of time covered in the program. Even jobs that wouldn’t ordinarily appear to have virtual positions could use interns, including restaurants that could use students to take reservations or online orders.
“These kids come highly skilled and they are already paid and ready to work. There is a lot they can do in social media and communications. They can offer a reach on social media that you would not otherwise get,” Lee-Sin said.
The internship experience gives students a chance to gain real-world, hands-on experience, make lasting professional connections, and discover more about their interests and proficiency along a specific career path. Internship experiences are linked to students’ future career goals in order to make learning more engaging and relevant. The business partners who hire these students interview them and select the most qualified or appropriate, also giving the students the chance to go through a real-life interview process. Ultimately, they benefit from the efforts of enthusiastic, prepared, and highly conscientious workers and get the chance to train and recruit future employees.
“My summer internship gave me the experience in which I was able to build connections with people who are in the current field that I am working in today, and that is a life-changing experience that you can’t get in the classroom,” said Adam Bernstein, a former internship program participant.
By offering both practical work experience and developmental opportunities, SYIP aims to enable participants to contribute to the county’s workforce as they develop critical skills. The collaboration sets the stage for continued partnership, as well as the development of a more robust and proficient future workforce by providing meaningful employment for Miami-Dade County’s youth.