High school student Alexander Wood fixes one of the tail lights on a fire operation trucks. Wood participated in a six-week internship with San Juan County’s Fire Operations team. Courtesy/NMPED
San Juan County high school students Nash Charley, left, and Evan Rice add sand mixture to divots at the Pinon Hills Golf Course in Farmington. Courtesy/NMPED
Public Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus
SANTA FE — The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) is wrapping up its inaugural summer internship initiative, which provided quality, paid internships and career experience to about 2,300 high school students across New Mexico this summer including Los Alamos.
Through the Summer Enrichment Internship Program, the PED distributed $9.89 million in federal funding to 22 tribal and county governments that placed high school students in six-week internships within government, non-profit or business partners of their choosing.
“After an incredibly difficult year, it was pivotal to provide high school students an opportunity to explore career opportunities while earning a paycheck this summer,” Public Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus said. “I am proud of the collaborative effort between the College and Career Readiness Bureau, county and tribal governments, non-profits, businesses and our high school students to arrange this successful program on short notice.”
Working 20 hours per week, students participated in dozens of career opportunities in fire operations, emergency management, human resources, maintenance and other fields.
The following county and tribal governments took part in the program:
- De Baca
- Dona Ana
- HELP New Mexico: Cibola, Colfax, McKinley, Rio Arriba, and San Miguel
- Los Alamos
- San Juan
- Santa Fe
- Jicarilla Apache
- Navajo Nation
- Ohkay Owingeh
- Santo Domingo
The program’s costs were covered by the third round of funding from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, part of federal COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts. The funding covered wages of student interns and adult coordinators.
Student interns were paid the hourly minimum wage of their designated county or tribal government. The intern coordinators, who were subject to background checks, received $500 per week to help seek, train and oversee the interns on a weekly basis.
“I loved it,” Aztec High School student Brooklyn Shaw said, who interned with San Juan County’s Human Resources Department. “My mentor helped me make my resume better, and I received all the interpersonal communications and telephone etiquette training I need to get an entry-level job one day. It’s given me the confidence that if there is something I want to do, I can do it.”
“It shows you not every job is going to be a piece of cake,” intern Alexander Wood said, who worked with San Juan County’s Fire Operations team. “There’s always going to be something that throws a knot into the ropes and you think, ‘I can’t get out.’ But figuring it out is what helps you moving forward.”
The following parties contributed to the implementation and administration of the Summer Enrichment Internship Program: The PED’s College and Career Readiness Bureau, the Department of Workforce Solutions, Future Focused Education, and Farmington Municipal Schools.