Mayor's youth summer internship program growing in Charlotte - | WBTV Charlotte

Mayor's youth summer internship program growing in Charlotte

(Pamela Escobar | WBTV) (Pamela Escobar | WBTV)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts called on local business owners to hire more young people during the summer. It's a part of the Mayor's Youth Employment Program. 

According to the mayor’s office, businesses stepped up to the challenge.

The Mayor’s Youth Employment Program is growing. This year, they have 70 employers offering paid internships. The mayor said she has really pushed companies that have participated in the past to take more than one intern.

On Friday, 360 interns had their orientation in NODA for the program. They were taught the importance of using this summer’s internship as an opportunity to gain experience and to build their resume.

The program has been around for 30 years, but Mayor Roberts said she has put effort into growing the program because of the city’s poor economic mobility stats.

“These are jobs that are hard for someone to get if you’re from a disadvantaged school, disadvantaged part of town where your parents don’t have connections,” Roberts said, “but the mayor’s office works with employers to give students those connections so they can have the same opportunity that somebody from a more resourceful area in town would have.”

Ny'asia Spruill graduated from West Charlotte High School and will be interning at the YMCA. Spruill said she doesn't know anyone in her family who has had an internship.

“And hopefully be able to have a little kid look up to me as a person they want to be later on in life,” Spruill said.

It’s a selective process.

“There was over 120 that applied at my school only and only 13 got the internships,” said John Helmy, a South Mecklenburg High School Senior who will be interning with Novant. He’s interested in becoming a doctor.

Each student has a goal, and the Mayor's Youth Employment Program is a step towards it.

“My dream job is to be an international broadcast journalist,” said Dominique Moore. Moore said this is her second year in MYEP. Last year, she was an intern at a law firm.

“I thought I was just going to be in there and do little kid stuff. They put me right in. I was doing actually stuff going to the courthouse, working on depositions, working with the different clients doing interviews,” Moore said.

This year, she'll work at the Harvey B. Gant Center.

“Working at the Harvey B. Gant Center is perfect. I get the exposure. I get to do public relations event planning. I get to make different connections with people inside my community, so I can take that outside of there when I go college and after college and things like that,” Moore said.

“We really take this very seriously. They will be a part of our staff this summer,” said Bonita Buford of the Harvey Gant Center. “We’re always looking for ways to touch people with arts, many people feel that the arts are a luxury. And we really feel art and culture are a necessity. It can really make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The mayor says she is concerned about Charlotte’s opportunity gap.

“So, if you haven’t had that first internship as a young person you have a much harder time getting that career path actually becoming a successful adult in the workforce later in life,” Roberts said.

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