Published : Monday, July 24, 2017 | 12:31 PM
About a hundred incoming seniors at Pasadena high schools district-wide are both playing hard and working harder this summer as they near completion of a unique internship program sponsored by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, which places the students with hands-on job experience opportunities with local companies.
One business in particular, Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union, took on two students for the summer to join their corporate team and learn about the ins and outs of world of finance and banking–all before they graduate high school.
The program is currently in its third year and aims to provide students with career readiness as they near adulthood and enter the next phase of their professional lives.
“The Pasadena Unified School District wants to get kids college and career ready and so what we’re trying to do is push more of that technical education so that by the summer before they go into their twelfth-grade year they have some exposure in an industry,” explained Amy Foell from the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.
The summer internship program is a partnership between the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and the Pasadena Unified School District.
Each year approximately 100 students are selected to work alongside professionals in various industries that include corporate offices, nonprofits and more.
“Sometimes it’s something they’re really passionate about or interested in and sometimes we can’t always accommodate that, but ideally it’s something they’re somewhat curious about or interested in,” explained Foell.
Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union was able to hire on two students for the summer program this year.
Over 50 Chamber of Commerce member businesses participate in the internship program each year and let on anywhere between one to over a half dozen interns at a time.
According to the credit union’s Vice President of Marketing, the program benefits both the students and the company.
“Our goal is to create a win-win situation where we can mentor students, teach them financial literacy, and give them solid work experience. We benefit by gaining some insights into what makes the younger generation tick these days. After all, many of them will be our future credit union members one day,” explained Andy Tien.
Student interns must complete 60 hours of work and take a class in conjunction in order to successfully complete the program.
“It is a legitimate internship with a pass-fail class,” explained Foell.
“We hope they will take away a solid work experience and exposure of what a professional work environment is like and for them to see how it is very different from the classroom setting. They get to learn the certain expectations organizations have, whether it’s the way they dress, the way they speak or the way they talk to each other,” explained Tien.
For incoming Pasadena High School senior Donavan Ray, his internship with the Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union marks the beginning of his job search.
“I decided to enroll in the internship program this year because it’s just a great opportunity to get a lot of work experience. This is actually my first job being here–I’ve never had job experience before,”
Donavan’s daily duties at Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union include everything from creating social media content, website help, scanning checks, entering loan information into the credit union’s digital database and more.
“Our goal is to provide a well-rounded experience where one day the intern can be in marketing, the next day be in accounting, the next day be in the lending department or even the operations department,” explained Tien.
Ray’s fellow Pasadena High School classmate and Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union intern, Charlie Andrade, has learned skills that are not taught in the classroom.
“Something I have taken away from working here is the experience to communicate with others and talking to customers. That’s something that’s helped me a lot because I’ve been sort of a shy person and being here has really helped me grow,” explained Andrade.
“Another thing I’ve learned is accounting and using computers. It’s helped me a lot and will probably help me in the future and possibly at a job in the future, which is something I look forward to,” Andrade added.
Ray’s daily schedule and having to balance summer sports, a short commute to the internship, and family life was a challenge that required some getting used to.
“Something I didn’t learn in the classroom that I learned at work is that when you’re here at work, it’s a whole different environment than from being in the classroom,” said Ray. “When you’re here at work, it’s about business and getting your things done. You have a workload, finish your work load, and fun’s after,” explained Ray.
Student interns receive a stipend for their contributions and the Chamber of Commerce steps in and raises funds if certain organizations, such as nonprofits, are unable to provide compensation.
The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce will soon launch a new Foundation that invests in the future of Pasadena’s high school students by giving them real world work experiences in a variety of industries before they graduate as seniors.
The Foundation, which is currently in the final stage of approval, will aim to ensure long term funding to help the program grow and serve more students than it is currently able to help in kickstarting careers.
“We want to keep going with this. There’s such a need. The end-game is to mitigate the skills gap because we are having such a hard time getting people ready to work. We want to be that liaison,” said Foell.
Currently, the interns have clocked in most of their required 60 hours and are excited to begin their senior year with some experience under their belt.
“This is a great option to have explored and it’s something that maybe in the future I would consider doing as a future job. It’s something that has helped me realize some potential that I may have in this career,” explained Andrade.
You can visit PSFCU at 670 North Rosemead Boulevard, call (877) 297-4707 or visit their website http://www.mypsfcu.org/about/who.php. You can also stay in touch with them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mypsfcu and Twitter: @PasadenaServFCU