UNM-LA Internship Program Entrenches Youth In Community

Mentors from local businesses with their interns are joined by CIC staff at the Dec. 13 graduation of the latest group to participate in this highly successful program at UNM-LA. Photo by Kateri Morris/UNM-LA

From left, LAHS CIC Coordinator Ken Holmes, UNM-LA CIC Coordinator Laura Loy, UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cynthia Rooney, LAPS Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus and LANL Community Programs Office Deputy Director Carole Rutten at the Dec. 13 graduation. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

From left, CIC intern Kaylen Pocaterra, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján and Pocaterra’s mentor Prisca Tiasse. Courtesy photo

By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post

It has proven to be a definite win-win for local students and the businesses that mentor them through the Community Internship Collaboration (CIC) program at UNM-Los Alamos.

Fifteen students who participated in the most recent program were joined by their mentors as they graduated during a special event Dec. 13 at the college.  

UNM-LA undergraduate Kayla Hendren mentored with Cmdr. Oliver Morris at the Los Alamos Police Department.

“One of the greatest things about this internship is you’re working, earning college credit, getting paid, meeting new people, and possibly working in an area where you may want to learn more about or work in someday,” Hendren said.

CIC is a joint partnership of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Security, LLC, Los Alamos High School and the Small Business Development Center. It was established to fill an employment gap in the community and expand partnerships between the Laboratory, small business owners and schools. The program’s goals are to provide meaningful work experiences for students, meet area workforce needs, and to develop the future workforce for the local community, the region and the Laboratory.

“The CIC program has been instrumental in creating a bridge between education and economic development,” said Carole Rutten, deputy director of the LANL Community Programs Office. “These types of partnerships create a win-win opportunity for students, and small businesses, as they provide practical learning experiences, that support what our students are learning in their classrooms and matching with important projects that help our businesses move forward. This program supports the Laboratory’s goal to prepare the workforce of the future, and this program provides a great head start.”

CIC Coordinator Laura Loy explained that together with her colleague Ken Holmes, she has had the pleasure of helping this program grow and evolve over the last few semesters.

“It’s truly a unique program that gives our high school juniors and seniors and UNM-LA undergraduates an opportunity to develop their workforce skills in the classroom, learn hands-on from a mentor in a business environment, all the while getting paid and earning college credit,” Loy said. “Seeing the transformation that many of the students go through from the beginning of the semester to the end has been one of the best parts of my job. On the other side of the equation are the mentors, many of whom have told me they didn’t expect to gain so much personally and professionally from the experience. I can now relate, as this semester I also served as a mentor to two interns. The learning truly went both ways; I feel I learned and gained as much from them as they did from me. It was a very rewarding experience.”

Following his semester as a web development intern with Zhennovate LLC, LAHS student Alex Ionkov launched his first business.  

“I came to know Alex Ionkov through the CIC as his mentor,” said Zhennovate owner Di Ye. “Alex is a budding engineering talent from Los Alamos High School and is looking to hone his communication at a workplace setting and apply his programming skills. For few hours a week in the Fall 2016 semester, I mentored Alex on developing an online learning tool for my company, which is a personal and professional development startup. I entrusted Alex with big responsibilities and gave him the space to be an independent problem-solver, and indeed Alex learned quite a bit and picked up a few programming languages quickly along the way. In this process, Alex and I were able to build a meaningful relationship as we explored product development cycle, software engineering, professional communication, and the practice of entrepreneurship together.”

Ye explained that Ionkov also happened to be her student in the Launch Los Alamos (Launch LA) program, where local students learn entrepreneurship skills over eight weeks and present a pitch at the end to win prizes. Ionkov’s team eventually won the pitch competition with their local bubble tea business.

“For Alex, he was able to experience entrepreneurship from the operational side this time,” Ye said. “I want to thank the CIC program for giving me an opportunity to integrate with the local community since my recent move into Los Alamos. I’d also like to thank projectY cowork Los Alamos for providing a space that is conducive to creativity and productivity for Alex and me to work together in the CIC and Launch LA programs.”

Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott spoke about his experience with the program.

“First and foremost we have work we need to accomplish here and CIC is just an excellent  resource for us to do it, particularly when we have an intern who can help us to focus in on one task and one problem they can help us solve,” Lott said. “Then working with our local university and building up those relationships with our national park, our local university and our local community, there is lots of value in that.”

LAHS Junior Katey Green mentored with the Los Alamos Fire Department.

“Through this program I have learned many new skills, such as job working skills, time management skills and being more organized,” Green said. “This has been a great learning experience.”

Ufemia Bernal Rios interned as a Small Business Saturday assistant in November and so impressed her supervisors at the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce that she is now employed there.

Learn more about CIC at http://losalamos.unm.edu/cic/ or contact Coordinator Laura Loy at cic@unm.edu.

Following his semester as a web development intern with Zhennovate LLC, LAHS junior Alex Ionkov, center, launched his first business Mountain Bubble Tea with partners Cameron Art and Phillip Martin who also are juniors at LAHS. Courtesy photo

LAHS junior Sara Shiina with mentors Karthik Ramasamy, left, and CEO Hunter McDaniel of UbiQD. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos Daily Post sports reporter intern Niccolo Snyder is joined at his Dec. 13 graduation with, from left, UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cynthia Rooney, LA Daily Post Publisher Carol A. Clark, LANL Community Programs Office Deputy Director Carole Rutten and Snyder’s mother Mickey Marsee who works at UNM-LA. ‘Working as a sports reporter for the Los Alamos Daily Post through the CIC program this past semester has changed my life … I know now this is what I want to do,’ Snyder said. Snyder will continue interning at the newspaper during the upcoming semester. Photo by Nancy Coombs/UNM-LA

Los Alamos Daily Post sports reporter intern Niccolo Snyder displays some of his high school sports coveage. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Los Alamos Police Cmdr. Oliver Morris mentored UNM-LA undergraduate student Kayla Hendren. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

From left, UNM-LA graduate student Kayla Hendren explains her project to community member Chris Reynolds during the Dec. 13 CIC graduation event at UNM-LA. LAHS junior Anastajia Dragonic speaks to community members. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Scene from the Dec. 13 CIC program graduation event at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

UNM-LA undergraduate Julian Ortiz and LAHS junior Sonya Velasquez talk about their internship experiences. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Homeschooled high school student Savannah Martinez with Pauline Schneider, director of the Betty Ehart Senior Center where Martinez interned. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

LANL Community Programs Office Deputy Director Carole Rutten, left, chats with interns and their families. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Ufemia Bernal Rios, holding a copy of the Small Business Saturday special section published in the Los Alamos Daily Post, interned as a Small Business Saturday assistant after which she was offered a job and is now employed by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

From left, Mentor Prisca Tiasse, founder of Biodidact, a local biotechnology research, development and training center, speaks with LAHS juniors Alex Ionkov and Mykayla Hanawalt. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

LAPD Cmdr. Oliver Morris speaks with his wife Kateri Morris who works at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Scene from the Dec. 13 CIC program graduation event at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

SBDC Director Joe Montes speaks with UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cynthia Rooney. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

CIC Coordinator Laura Loy with her intern LAHS junior Sonya Velasquez. Photo by Kateri Morris/UNM-LA

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