Eighteen-year-old Richard Jones wants to be a nanotech engineer with Apple or Google, but his previous work experience includes mowing lawns and laying bricks for his family.
Raymond Williams, 18, of San Bernardino High School, wants to be a digital engineer, but he didn’t know how to approach jobs, or even job searches.
Angie Nett, human resources director with Sorenson Engineering in Yucaipa, wants students to give manufacturing jobs a try, but students often don’t know those jobs are available.
The San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board‘s new GenerationGo! Career Pathways initiative is aiming to bridge these gaps by giving students the right tools to get careers with area employers.
“These opportunities were not available to me when I was in school. I don’t feel I was ever given the opportunity or ever introduced to engineering or manufacturing, welding, carpentry, or automotive. I don’t know how different my life would be if I had.”
The pilot version started in 2017 and gave students at Cajon High School in San Bernardino the chance to get 120 hours of clinical practice at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. Since then it has been expanding, and this year about 200 students from San Bernardino and Colton school districts have been placed in internships.
Mariann Johnson, the board’s deputy director, said the program helps employers who “can’t find the workers that they need” and helps the workforce by “exposing kids to jobs that they maybe didn’t even know existed.”
With the county, students can work in departments from human resources to the sheriff’s, or they can work at the county’s museum learning to be a vet for the live animals, as an educator, or building exhibits.
They can also work with a myriad of private businesses such as with animatronics giant Garner Holt in Redlands and Sorenson Engineering which makes tiny components for medical to aerospace companies.
“These opportunities were not available to me when I was in school,” said Bill Tynan, director of Secondary Education & Workforce Development, Garner Holt Education through Imagination, a graduate from Pacific High School in San Bernardino. “I don’t feel I was ever given the opportunity or ever introduced to engineering or manufacturing, welding, carpentry, or automotive. I don’t know how different my life would be if I had.”
Last year the animatronics company had seven interns through the program, one of whom was Jones, who now works there.
The recent graduate of San Andreas High School in Highland said the important thing for him was just experiencing the work world.
He said he used to think of people who go to work as boring people in suits, “but these people here (at Garner Holt) are charismatic and they all have different personalities, but they all seem to be able to collaborate and work together.”
Garner Holt has 12 new interns this spring, including Williams.
“I had no idea how we are supposed to approach jobs, or approach job searches, so the educational course before his was really cool for figuring out that part, and this portion is amazing for learning what I should be doing once I actually get the job,” he said.
That work readiness course is required before students start their internships.
Nett said Sorenson has offered summer internships for years, and has learned it is soft skills such as scheduling work, or getting to work on time that can be difficult for those new to the workforce.
With the program growing – students from Rialto will join in the next round – organizers seek more local employers.
Johnson said it can be very rewarding for all involved.
“What we see out here is a lot of ideas, a lot of energy, and if we can tap into that, if we can create an environment where those students feel like they can contribute their ideas, that they can take their interests and help develop some programming based on those interests, then our program is going to be that much better for it,” Tynan said.
Businesses interested in participating should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Jennifer Iyer for The Sun