Guest presenters:

  • Garnet C. Esters, Program Manager, The Children’s Trust
  • Lupe Ferran Diaz, Ph.D., Executive Director, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) Department of Career and Technical Education
  • Ann de las Pozas, Executive Director, Foundation for New Education Initiatives, Inc. (FNEI)
  • John Ise, Contracts Officer, Miami-Dade County
  • Travis Kelly, Special Projects Administrator, CareerSource South Florida

FCAN host: Kathy McDonald, Assistant Director for Network Partnerships

While there are many ways of exposing students to potential careers — internships, volunteering, research and study abroad — it can be a challenge to do so at scale.

On September 13, FCAN hosted a webinar highlighting how partners in Miami-Dade County collaborated to create a summer internship program that recently led to more than 2,300 paid internships for students in South Florida.

Get to Know: Miami-Dade County Public Schools Summer Youth Internship Program

Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Summer Youth Internship Program (SYIP) was established in 2016 and gives the district’s high school students a chance to gain work experience and complete a paid internship in the county. More than 650 companies participated in the most recent cohort during Summer 2021.

“There was a will and a determination to have a summer internship program with various components for the youth,” said Garnet C. Esters, Program Manager for The Children’s Trust, which plans, advocates for, and funds strategic investments that improve the lives of all children in Miami-Dade. “The Children’s Trust was one of the organizations that had the funding to do it, but we didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle to create a program.”

Enter the community partners who came together to make SYIP a reality: Miami-Dade County Public Schools (administers the internship program), CareerSource South Florida (the program’s workforce development arm), Miami-Dade County (contributes monetarily and manages the contracting process in conjunction with The Children’s Trust and CareerSource South Florida), EdFed (the financial institution where student participants do their banking), and the Foundation for New Education Initiatives (the administrative arm of the program, which also supports the school district).

Each of the partners made a point of emphasizing the crucial role that clear and constant communication played in the program’s success.

“We meet every single week for at least an hour over the phone for a good eight months out of the year, and we do it for a five-week program,” said Ann de las Pozas, Executive Director for the Foundation for New Education Initiatives. “So you can see how important we all think communication is.”

John Ise, Contracts Officer for Miami-Dade County echoed that sentiment.

“Communication, collaboration, ongoing dialogue, and a commitment to being flexible as challenges arise are all vital,” Ise said.

2021 SYIP Outcomes

This past summer, 2,321 students completed the paid internship program, which represented a 99% completion rate. That includes students from 61 Miami-Dade district schools who worked 369,507 hours at 655 participating companies.

“Our role is to provide the services and support that every region needs in order to build a talented pool of workers for employers to choose from,” said Travis Kelly, Special Projects Administrator for CareerSource South Florida. “In creating any type of internship or employment program for your students, it’s very important that you get your local workforce investment board at the table as one of your primary partners.”

Additionally, 74 students received dual enrollment college credit during this most recent cohort.

Lupe Ferran Diaz, Executive Director for the school district’s Department of Career and Technical Education, said between 60-75 teachers were hired this past summer to serve as internship supervisors for the student participants.

“We firmly believe that a high-quality internship program must be supervised not only by the work-site supervisor, but by a teacher,” Diaz said. “Remember, these students are receiving academic credit.”

How It Works and Adapting During the Age of COVID

In addition to being assigned both a teacher internship supervisor and a worksite supervisor, all participating SYIP students are:

  • Eligible for high school academic credit or dual enrollment credit, if they qualify
  • Required to open a Credit Union account
  • Required to have student accident insurance

Diaz also said the program recently updated its platform, including adding some instructional/promotional videos. Teacher supervisors also document all facets of the internship online, while district staff provide ongoing audit reports for examination at the end of each cohort.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, program partners:

  • Presented virtual marketing seminars arranged with national and local partners to incoming interns on personal branding/marketing in preparation for the internship
  • Hosted three internship orientation seminars for providers to share strategies for hosting a remote intern as well as to review the management logistics
  • Hosted a series of parent orientations in English, Spanish, and Creole attended by over 1,000 participants to prepare interns and parents regarding the logistical management of all functions of the internship experience
  • Held multiple student orientations regarding deadlines and non-negotiables to ensure a successful experience
  • Created project templates shared with employers on how to develop a remote internship project
  • Utilized technology with digital signatures to collect documents remotely

“We have a superintendent who believes that every student should have the opportunity to experience their first internship,” Diaz said. “When this community can open doors for its students, it speaks volumes.”

Show Notes

To learn more best practices for a successful summer internship program — or to view the webinar and download the presentation — take advantage of these resources:


Be sure to visit our Past Webinars page for access to recordings and downloadable material from FCAN’s previous presentations.

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