UNM-Los Alamos Community Internship Collaboration Wraps Up Eighth Year Anniversary With Graduation Event

CIC intern Sayra Villalobos celebrates at her graduation event with one of her mentors from SALA Los Alamos Event Center Allan Saenz. Photo by Sarah Jimenez  

UNM-LA News:

The Community Internship Collaboration (CIC) celebrated another successful semester of matching UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) student interns with local business mentors Dec. 8 at the graduation hosted by the SALA Los Alamos Event Center.

UNM-LA has been partnering with local businesses to provide meaningful work experiences for students and meet local workforce needs through the CIC program since 2014.  

The evening of Dec. 8, the UNM-LA Director of Student Services, Kathryn Vigil, started the night off by congratulating students for successfully finishing their internships, and for the investment they have made toward their futures. Ten student participants shared presentations about their internship experiences with parents, mentors, and other community members. Students showed detailed slide shows, sharing photographs, videos, graphs, or other representations of their work as interns, presented on a large theater screen.  

“The Los Alamos business community stepped up for our CIC interns in a big way this semester, and it was evident through the student’s excellent presentations,” UNM-LA CIC Coordinator, Brittany Carpenter said. “Through the course of the internships, the mentors helped our students solidify their educational and professional interests, showed them different career options, and were phenomenal examples of giving back to this community.”  

Students who were successfully matched with businesses included:

  • Lily Houghteling for Attack Research (7th time hosting CIC intern);
  • Francis Ylitalo for LosAlamos.com;
  • Maia Dominguez for Los Alamos Family Eye Care;
  • Amber Ferree for Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization (6th time hosting CIC intern);
  • Christal Valdez for Mind & Melody;
  • Brandon Martinez for Pac8 (5th time hosting CIC Intern);
  • Sayra Villalobos for SALA Los Alamos Event Center;
  • Jaden Medina-Torres and Jose Ortega for Samizdat Bookstore & Teahouse; and
  • Dylan Atencio for UNM-Los Alamos IT department (2nd time hosting CIC intern).  

Carpenter, along with the instructor Lee Libby, met with the students weekly this fall semester, teaching them different business skills, from developing a resume to workplace etiquette. In addition to the skills learned in the classroom, the students gain valuable work experience, earn college credit, and receive a stipend. UNM-LA was able to increase the amount of the stipend for each intern this semester thanks to the Title V Grant, a grant awarded to UNM-LA to help build strong STEM academic and career pathways for students.  

“The CIC is such a unique opportunity as it allows students to explore their interests and help them determine their career path in a supportive environment,” Carpenter said. “It’s also advantageous to our local community as it provides workforce development opportunities with emerging leaders. I love watching the students discover their talents and put them to use in our community.”  

Many of the mentors were at the graduation as well and were pleased to talk about working with their CIC interns.  

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to mentor Maia, she was a quick learner and was able to really help our office with patient care,” Lisa Shin from Los Alamos Family Eye Care said. “She just jumped in and learned it all and was wonderful with my staff. They were able to teach her, which also solidified my staff’s knowledge. It was a great experience for everyone. I wish I had something like this program in college, it is tremendous!”  

“We were very excited to have our student intern Sayra, especially because this is a new business,” Patricia Burnside said, from the SALA Los Alamos Event Center. “She got to see not just event planning, but everything a new business comes with! It was a pleasure for us to work with the CIC, it’s an amazing program that we can all learn from and help the students gain the skills for their future.”  

“The (CIC) program is amazing because it gave me the perspective of some folks that are much younger than me,” said Jill Lang from Samizdat Bookstore and Teahouse. “They provided insights on what we should be selling/carrying/doing, and they brought a new energy that I absolutely loved. It was also wonderful to see them grow in their responsibilities here at Samizdat.”  

“We’ve been using the CIC program now for seven years, we actually have qualified staff that have come out through it,” Tadeusz Raven said, CEO of Attack Research. “They tend to be hardworking, professional young people just looking for an opportunity. We think it’s a great program and we hope to expand it in the community.”  

Several students who successfully completed the CIC program were happy to share their thoughts about their experiences as an intern.  

“Overall, I had a successful experience with the CIC program and SALA,” Sayra Villalobos said. “My mentor, Allan Saenz, was very helpful in every way possible and so was the event coordinator, Patricia Burnside. Working and seeing that they are both very successful and brilliant people, motivated me to work hard and make the most out of the internship.”  

“Everything has its highs and lows, and this program does too,” Brandon Martinez said. “It’s a great experience if you really want to have something to broaden your college experience.”  

“This internship provided some valuable experience, and it gave me a better understanding of what I want to do in the future, and maybe it will make me a better employee in the future as well,” Christal Valdez said.  

“Thanks to CIC, UNM-LA, and Jill from Samizdat, I found the community and the niche that I didn’t even know that I wanted or needed,” Jose Ortega said. “I found a wonderful career path that I am super excited to pursue after years and years of just floundering around. So, thank you, guys!”  

UNM-Los Alamos wishes to express its gratitude to all the businesses and mentors who have poured into the success of the CIC students and continue to mold an inspiring future for the community. They wish also to acknowledge and extend appreciation to SALA for hosting the graduation event.  

UNM-Los Alamos is committed to continuing the CIC program next spring, and businesses and qualifying UNM-LA students are encouraged to apply! To learn more about the program, visit http://losalamos.unm.edu/cic/.  

UNM-LA is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. UNM-LA has an open admission policy that permits entry to all interested students. Small class sizes allow students a personalized educational experience. Student Success Associates work closely with students to provide advisement in academics and career counseling. The faculty are highly qualified; a majority are working professionals in the fields they teach. UNM-LA has strong ties to the Los Alamos community and LANL and is committed to creating educational and professional opportunities that benefit both students and local employers. In addition to the new BSME partnership, UNM-LA offers 27 degrees and certificate programs.

CIC intern Jose Ortega having a discussion with his mentor, Jill Lang from Samizdat Bookstore and Teahouse, at the graduation event at SALA. Photo by Sarah Jimenez  

CIC intern, Christal Valdez giving her presentation about her intern experience with Mind & Melody. Photo by Sarah Jimenez  


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