ALEX BREAULT, DIRECTOR OF WORK-BASED LEARNING
With summer quickly approaching, students across the region are starting to sketch out plans for their time off from school. For some, that may mean a part-time job or volunteering. For others, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore an internship.
Volunteer hours are now a graduation requirement at many high schools and colleges. Students try to complete these hours early in their education usually with an organization they are passionate about, but they’re often faced with a question of how they can earn money, while also gaining the valuable experience necessary to excel in their chosen field.
The solution: Internships. As more and more employers throughout Southwest Florida offer paid internships, students can get hand-on experience in their area of interest while earning a small income.
Alex Breault, director of Work-Based Learning for The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce (Photo: Photo provided)
Internships have a long-term impact on a student’s future. Traditional part-time, summer jobs are beneficial in a wide variety of ways, including teaching students the necessary soft skills – from arriving on time to customer service – that are vital to their future success. But they aren’t always in a student’s desired area of professional growth.
Traditional internships provide students with access to training that will hone their skills, mentors who will encourage their success, and opportunities that will open their eyes to what the future can hold.
While the number of internships is growing, not every student can spend a summer working in their desired field. That means employers across all industries should take steps to create positions that emulate the internship experience. At the Leadership Collier Foundation, an affiliate of the Naples Chamber, we work with local businesses and schools to create the right opportunities for our businesses and future talent.
When our team talks to employers about intern opportunities, we encourage them to consider hiring a student beginning at minimum wage. Although unpaid internships are beneficial to students who receive school credit, employers who can offer paid internships are quickly able to see it was worth the investment. Offering paid internships opens the door to a more diverse pool of interns, allows interns to feel like they are part of the team, and leads to a more productive and positive experience. As students begin their hunt for a summer job, we encourage local businesses to look at ways they can incorporate work-based learning into their offerings.Students who have traditional, part-time jobs – such as working in the mall or at a restaurant – should be able to have the same education-based experience as an intern. Employers can do that by providing student employees with a variety of learning opportunities, from providing an inside look at operations and the opportunity to work in other departments to continued education and constructive feedback.
And traditional internships aren’t always the answer. Employers can consider adding micro-internships to their host of opportunities, opening the door to the next generation of employees. These are short-term, paid professional assignments that can be completed by an entry-level new hire, with minimal guidance or onboarding. Micro-internship projects can be anything from social media monitoring, to data clean up or content creation. Assignments can range from five to 40 hours of work, typically pay between $200 and $600 per project, and can be completed remotely. This type of internship is attractive to employers who either aren’t ready to host an intern or don’t have the resources to hire a part-time intern.
“I believe that the best real-work experience a student can have is through an internship,” said Denise Murphy, general manager at the The Players Club & Spa. “Internships help students develop and learn professional skills that promote growth and development. As an employer, it gives us the opportunity to mentor, teach and guide our interns in their learning process. The best part is we get to nurture their skillset and ideally bring them on as a paid full-time employee.”
Our economy thrives when we provide students with educational and fulfilling work experiences. These opportunities expose students to high-skill, high-wage jobs available in Southwest Florida and help grow the next generation of community leaders.
For more information about work-based learning, visit www.NaplesChamber.org/CollierLeads.
Original Story shared in Naples Daily News
The Leadership Collier Foundation and Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Grace Place for Children and Families to bring a “Student and Business Networking” event to their students. The event gave high school students a chance to practice their networking skills with local professionals and learn about career opportunities in our community. The Leadership Collier Foundation and Naples Chamber encouraged business professionals from all disciplines to attend the event. This was a great opportunity for the adults to engage with our future talent and potentially recruit their interns or future employees.
Read on to find out more!
“I was thoroughly impressed after speaking with several Golden Gate High School students at Grace Place. Their ambition, maturity and openness to networking was beyond refreshing and I’m grateful to The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce for hosting such a forward-thinking event. Many students don’t experience networking until well after college and I believe that this program allows students to have a distinct advantage in their future pursuits no matter their career choice. Once again, the Chamber has succeeded in connecting individuals in our community! Grace Place is an excellent community partner that continues to grow and serve Naples because they truly practice what they preach. I am looking forward to the next event!” – Kelsey Browne, Brown & Brown of Southwest FL
“The business networking event was a great experience for me. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to meet prominent members of organizations and different businesses. I had a great time meeting them. They were all very friendly and gave great advice pertaining to my future. The business networking event also helped me develop connections with organizations like the Shelter for Abused Women and Children and have opened doors to many opportunities. Furthermore, this event has been very beneficial in making connections and getting insight to the vast type of businesses in Naples. – Jonathan Oliva-Infante (11th grade
Interested in hosting a networking event at your organization? Contact Alex Breault, Work-Based Learning Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The purpose of my summer internship with the Guadalupe Center was to research various methods to create a survey that would collect the alma mater information of donors, professional advisors and Guadalupe Center friends, select a method, and create a survey.
In this internship I was able to utilize my existing computer skills including Microsoft Word and Excel and learn how to use new programs such as Online Express, Constant Contact and Blackbaud software. I also had the opportunity to enhance my professional skills, including written and verbal communication, attire and overall presentation that will have a long lasting impact on my future endeavors.
At the beginning of the project, I was instructed and became familiar with the database the Guadalupe Center uses. This process helped me become more self-aware about how I learn best. I realized that when I manage my time and schedule; learning the database and all its functions would progress. This strategy helped me enhance my problem-solving skills by becoming aware that my decisions would have an impact on the work of those around me. I was given clear direction and guidance on all my assignments with the expectations that were needed along with their deadlines.
I divided my time between the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, Florida and the Development Office in Naples, Florida. When I was in Immokalee I worked in the library which has a studious and vibrant ambiance to it. I felt a strong connection with the Guadalupe Center and the work that I was doing. I was filled with joy as I looked through the tall glass windows and saw children as they ran around the playground. At the Naples office, I was surrounded by business professional staff members and board members. They welcomed me with open arms and pretty soon I fell into a comfortable routine where it became a habit to have lunch together. One of my unexpected projects included being asked for suggestions on a name for a project that was being developed. By being put on the spot I was able to challenge my creativity.
After sending the Alma Mater Survey, I was excited to see 50 responses within the first 20 minutes! I felt such a sense of accomplishment by seeing the response number rise. Overall, this internship was an amazing opportunity that provided with many benefits and memories. If I were presented with another opportunity to intern for the Guadalupe Center, I would definitely do it all over again.
Interested in hosting your own intern? Email email@example.com for more information.
When I began my position as Membership Intern at the Chamber, I was just months away from earning my degree at Florida Gulf Coast University. I have held a few other jobs throughout my college career but have never worked for a non-profit organization. I knew my position would involve interacting with our members and assisting our membership team. What I didn’t realize was that this was only going to be one small part of my job description.
I have been with the Chamber for about 5 months now, and I have been able to work with every branch of our organization. While my primary goal has been to assist our Membership Department, I have also been able to work with our Marketing Department, Events & Development, Public Policy, and the Leadership Collier Foundation.
I couldn’t have asked for a position that was more well-rounded, versatile and, well… fun! From assisting with and attending events, updating our database and writing press-releases, to engaging with our members and attending meetings, every day is an entirely different experience. I never thought that through my internship I would learn about new restaurants, other local non-profit organizations and large and small local businesses. I feel very connected to the Naples community and have seen our continued growth first-hand.
One of the most important things I have realized is just how much the Chamber does for our community. I feel that there’s a misconception that the Chamber is a business networking vehicle first and foremost—but that is only one small aspect of the work that is achieved within this organization. I have seen first-hand how our Chamber connects the whole community to new opportunities, not only it’s members. It has been such a rewarding experience to work with such a charitable and a driven team.
I will never forget my time here at the Naples Chamber and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work for such a terrific organization. I feel very prepared for my career and what the future has in store for me. I would highly recommend interning to any college student, as I would recommend hiring an intern to all our local organizations.
Rachel is a recent graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University earning a major in Psychology. After her internship, she is excited to pursue a career in human resources.
Interested in hosting your own intern? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This summer the Leadership Collier Foundation™ coordinated a work-site tour at the David Lawrence Center for students interested in a career in mental health or for students who wanted to learn more about the organization.
Students from The Immokalee Foundation and Youth Leadership Collier™ were educated about the vital services provided by the David Lawrence Center and their partnerships with other organizations throughout Collier County. The students also heard from Sgt. Leslie Weidenhammer, from the Collier County Sheriff’s Department, about her position, the relationship between DLC and CCSO, and the importance of interventions.
A work-site tour is one example of work-based learning opportunities for students. It allows students to see various aspects of an industry, network with employers, and connect classroom knowledge with a career. With these meaningful experiences, we hope to inspire learning and develop soft skills before entering the workforce.
What did you learn about the David Lawrence Center?
I liked the fact that the Sheriff’s office partners with the David Lawrence Center to make a difference in the community. They work together to create a welcoming place for people with mental disorders and addiction. I think it is interesting that there are different therapies for the whole body such as horse art therapy. Thank you for the opportunity to sit in and listen to what David Lawrence has to offer. -Cindy
I liked that the David Lawrence Center has many facilities, including one for children. They are also able to help people who are walk-ins. It’s nice that they really care about their community. –Alfonso
I learned that David Lawrence gives back so much to those in need of counseling and rehabilitation. The fact that they partner with different organizations to make the patients feel as helped and welcomed says a lot about the non-profit organization. Patients can participate in different therapeutic activities like art, music, and sports. I am thankful for the opportunity that was given to find out further on the impact the David Lawrence Center has on the community. -Madison
Interested in hosting a work-site tour for students? Email email@example.com