Maira Juarez-Martinez, a student at Early College Opportunities High School, loves reporting to work at SITE Santa Fe as an intern.
“It’s not the same thing as having a job. It’s better,” she said. “You learn, and you grow step by step. You learn how to be responsible, and all the knowledge and skills you gain helps you for your next step in college or life.”
Jesus Ontiveros of Capital High School, a finance intern at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, looked at his internship experience this way: “[I learned] I am able to learn things quickly as I see them done in front of me.”
These are just two of the students whose lives are being positively affected by a new Work-Based Learning program at Santa Fe Public Schools. Beginning last summer, in collaboration with the LANL Foundation and four Santa Fe hoteliers, the program’s internship model was implemented in the hospitality industry.
It was because of these hoteliers’ employer-led vision and investment that the program was able to expand to other thriving industries in Santa Fe this fall and spring semester.
What is Work-Based Learning? It’s a structured internship program that collaboratively engages local high-value employers, helping them offer juniors and seniors in high school high-quality internships, job shadow opportunities and mentorship experiences.
Student intern benefits include:
Participation in a “boot camp”-style soft skills training pre-internship. They learn about professionalism, work ethic, effective communication, teamwork and problem-solving. They build a résumé, learn about email etiquette and practice interviewing skills.
A broad range of transferable skills with hands-on training in a student’s desired career field. They also earn academic credit.
The application of classroom knowledge and skills to real world situations.
The opportunity to connect and network with general managers and CEOs of high paying careers.
Business partner and community benefits include:
Access to a range of talented and motivated high school students, resulting in filling job vacancies and the creation of a future workforce pipeline at zero-wage labor expense.
Fresh perspectives and problem-solving skills to the workforce, providing opportunities for innovative business development.
The ability to “give back” to their community by investing time to train and mentor our next generation.
Businesses are just as thrilled to be part of the program as the student interns. As one mentor at La Fonda on the Plaza said, “I am thoroughly impressed with the caliber of our interns. They are extremely intelligent, eager to learn, professional and a pleasure to work with. I can personally tell you they stand way above other young people within their age group.”
Ed Pulsifer, director of sales for La Fonda, added: “This is the best intern program I have worked with in the 37 years I have been in the hospitality industry.”
Work-Based Learning exists because of strong investments by the school district and city. Led by Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez, the district created a vision for the effort and recommended to the district’s Board of Education the hiring of a Work-Based Learning coordinator. This position is fundamental to the program’s internal infrastructure.
In addition, the city of Santa Fe’s Office of Economic Development and Youth and Family Services Division partnered with the district to pay interns $14 an hour with youth workforce development funds. This type of partnership is innovative and pioneering, and its investment positively affects our economy in myriad ways.
It will provide rich benefits for students and businesses for years to come.
For information on the Work-Based Learning program that will continue to offer paid internship opportunities to SFPS students this summer, contact Work-Based Learning coordinator Jose Villarreal at firstname.lastname@example.org.