Career immersion in high school enables students to find and pursue their passions
by Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO
When it comes to choosing a career, internships are an invaluable resource to help students gain a deeper understanding of potential careers, while obtaining hands-on experiences. At The Immokalee Foundation, high school students in our celebrated Career Pathways Program participate in career immersion and exploration through internships at a variety of businesses in Southwest Florida.
Internships provide exposure to the real world, giving our students the opportunity to grow their knowledge and confirm the professional path that best suits their long-term goals.
In middle school, our students start to explore, and in high school, subsequently begin to participate in one of four different pathways: Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Healthcare.
Our goal is for each student to complete a relevant internship during their junior year as part of their pathway’s curriculum. Leading up to their internship, students are exposed to different aspects of their pathway through after school programs, guest speakers and field trips. Each student also participates in a five-week Fundamentals of Workplace Readiness course hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University which focuses on soft skill development, including communication skills, time management, teamwork and resolving workplace conflict.
Through the Foundation, Education & Human Services Pathway student Dream M. completed an internship at the Guadalupe Center. During her internship, she worked with the early child education team and learned how early exposure to education can help break the cycle of poverty. She implemented lesson plans, collaborated with classroom teachers, and interacted with the children through hands-on activities.
Dream’s passion for teaching increased dramatically as a result of her incredible internship experience, and the opportunity confirmed her desire to become a teacher and educate the next generation of students.
“Dream’s experience is a perfect example of how the internship opportunities that our Foundation provides allows our students to truly envision themselves in their dream career,” said Thalia Vazquez, Education & Human Services Pathway Coordinator. “Whether that is a law enforcement officer, an elementary schoolteacher, or an immigration lawyer, they are able to see the daily tasks, pressures, and accomplishments that encompass that role. We are honored to collaborate with community partners to make our students’ dreams come true! ”
At The Immokalee Foundation, we’ve also found that internships not only help our students learn about their potential careers, but also more about themselves. By pushing them out of their comfort zones, these internships lead participants to a stronger understanding of their strengths as well as where they may still have room to grow.
The Internship Program at The Immokalee Foundation is helping transform students’ lives by giving them the tools and experience necessary to ensure they’re confident in their pathways to success. Of equal importance, the organizations who host our student interns often tell me that they have been transformed as well.
If you or any businesses you know are interested in partnering with The Immokalee Foundation to provide paid internship opportunities for students interested in Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management and Healthcare, please visit ImmokaleeFoundation.org/volunteer-or-mentor/.
About The Immokalee Foundation For more than 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has maintained a 100% focus on education and professional development for students in Immokalee—from kindergarten to postsecondary education. Through support, mentoring, tutoring, and life skills development, The Immokalee Foundation provides pathways to success for those who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to succeed.
For additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit immokaleefoundation.org.