Have you heard of AVID? It’s an internationally recognized program offered at Mountain View High and Los Altos High schools and it is designed to prepare students for college and a successful future. The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students are mostly first-generation college-bound students. They enroll in rigorous college-preparatory, Honors, and Advanced Placement classes and are supported by their AVID elective class.
The Mountain View Chamber of Commerce supports the AVID program through internships and by encouraging local businesses to allow interns to work for a few weeks. The Chamber had about 20 interns in February and another 20 in April.
I was lucky enough to get to go out into the community with the AVID interns and watch them conquer the tasks they had been assigned. They were given a script that included a friendly introduction as the entered each business, they asked the business if they were already a member of the Chamber and they gave them a slick, glossy magazine that their name would be inside, if they were to join the Chamber. They also asked the businesses if they would be interested in hosting AVID interns. Yes, it was cold-calling and they were fabulous!
They approached about 150 businesses on behalf of the Chamber. Just as you would expect, some businesses didn’t want to talk to them, others were curious and wanted more information about the Chamber, and others thought that it was a great idea to host interns.
The students used the free Mountain View Community Shuttle to get around the city and they stayed in groups as they worked. They are incredibly mature, self-directed and responsible and worked well together, even though they didn't all know each other since they went to two different schools.. The group that I was with, Erica, Melissa, Esmerelda and Jessie, took turns talking to the businesses and gave each other advice about how to answer questions about the Chamber, the AVID program and the upcoming annual Technology Showcase.
The interns worked in the Chamber boardroom for most of the week. We helped them build a stronger online presence for themselves (via their LinkedIn profiles) and for the AVID program. They made a new website for Mountain View AVID program. They decided which free website building program to use, they crafted the text for their new site and took their own photos.
The Chamber, specifically Dawn Maher, our Chief Evangelist, brought in some interesting speakers for the interns so they could get a better understanding of how the Chamber and the City work together to empower local business and help grow the Mountain View economy. They were fascinated and asked great questions of the speakers.
If you own or manage a business in Mountain View, or know of anyone who might be able to host some incredibly motivated interns, please get in touch with Dawn@Chambermv.org.
These kids recognize the fact that most of them don’t have a lot of personal connections that will help them succeed in the business world. They know that they need to focus on building partnerships with business and community leaders. They’re incredibly driven and grateful to be part of the program and they’re doing their best to take advantage of the opportunity.
There are lots of them and we need more businesses to join us, by hosting them. It’s not anything complicated, it’s just giving them the chance to see the inside of your business and get to know you.
They’re quite capable of doing things that you might not have time to do or don’t know how to do. Although they’re just learning how to sell themselves to the world, they were really good at researching various subjects and compiling the information into some kind of usable format.
I would be comfortable asking them to create spreadsheets, contact customers to ask questions, build simple websites or evaluate your current website, work on marketing or public relations projects, coordinate and/or work at an event for your business, create a basic social media strategy for your business, design a mobile app, or write content for a company blog. They would also benefit from shadowing an executive for the day.
If you have a project that you think they might be able to help you with, or you simply have questions about the student’s skillset, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. She spent a great deal of time with them and she will definitely know whether or not your business is a good fit for AVID students.
Think back to what it was like to be a high school student for a minute. Imagine your excitement if you were given the chance to be an intern at a local company. What you learn in that week or two might actually change your life, or at least your career path. You would probably be in awe of the people you met and you would be thrilled to get to be on the inside of their business for a few weeks. Now contact Dawn and tell her that you’re ready to host some interns. Thank you!