Miami-Dade Students Gain Experience, Cash in Summer Internship Programs

There's nothing wrong, of course, with teenagers taking summer jobs working retail at the mall, flipping burgers at McDonald's or preparing lattes at Starbucks.

There are, however, more challenging and more rewarding options, such as interning at a business. Thanks to the Miami-Dade Public Schools' Summer Youth Internship program, being an intern is not just for college students anymore.

"Well for many of them, it's an entree into the world of work," said Lupe Ferran Diaz, the school district's director of career and technical education. "But in addition, the networking, the fact that they do get academic credit, and if you talk to a few of these young people, they'll tell you they're changing the world, changing Miami."

More than a dozen businesses and institutions are taking part in this year's internship program, sponsoring more than 1,700 high school students from all over the county. Thanks to community partners, including the Children's Trust, the rising seniors get paid for their work.

“They come back better focused individuals, more mature. They know what it's like to actually work, to save money," Ferran Diaz said.

NBC 6 watched students at a tech training company called i2Labs design a video gaming tournament for high schools, which they plan on making a reality in the fall.

At a company called Proper John Music, interns were busy learning how to write lyrics, compose melodies, make music videos and more, all while using state-of-the-art computer programs. This is a tech-savvy generation, so what do they get out of these internships?

"A sense of the marketing world because I never had any experience when it came to that," said Hugens Casimir of North Miami High.

D'Avian Williams, a student at Miami Lakes Tech, said, “I’m learning how to sell and fundraise to people, how to talk to people and how to manage a whole entire business.”

Some students told NBC 6 just being in a creative environment, surrounded by other students who share their interests, is inspiring.

“In my creative process, whether it's learning how to write what I'm feeling, putting pen to paper and saying exactly what needs to be said," said Daniel Tomassi of Mourning High, explaining what he valued most from his internship.

The internships aren't a one-way street. The business owners benefit from the presence of the teenagers as well.

“They've been amazingly helpful with social media, they understand it more than my generation, and so they've been really helpful promoting our message, our actual content," said John Stewart, owner of Proper John Music. "I like the idea of not just finding talent that already exists but really developing it from the ground up."

In Stewart's case, the target demographic skews way young for a product he's involved with, the BattleMe rap music app. So grooming young talent helps his business and the students, too. Everybody wins.

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