Photo by: Sabella, Anthony
Article By: Anthony Sabella
After kicking off earlier this month, a local internship placement program says it still has 200 paid positions it needs to fill.
The NextGen Regional Internship Program runs from July to June and is operated by the Hampton Roads Workforce Council.
It’s available to teens and young adults, ages 16-21, in Chesapeake, Norfolk and Portsmouth, with a goal of giving selected interns valuable work experience in their fields of interest. Interns are paid a $1,400 non-taxed stipend for their work.
“If it’s a job out there, we have interns that are doing it. This is a year-round program, we accept applications on a rolling basis and we have positions to fill right now,” said Christina Brooks, senior director of the Workforce Council’s NextGen Programs and Special Projects.
Brooks says NextGen interns are getting experience in everything from engineering to culinary arts to conservation and more.
It’s all part of the Workforce Council’s larger effort to respond to what she calls a talent crisis in Hampton Roads.
“Our population isn’t growing at the speed we need it to in order to match the open positions in our workforce pipelines for our largest industries here in Hampton Roads,” she said. “A lot of our young people aren’t staying in our region. They’re moving up to New York, Atlanta, Richmond or D.C.”
Internships are a way to hopefully keep talent in Hampton Roads, she says.
One of the internships is a partnership between Old Dominion University’s Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) and The IncuHub in Portsmouth, where interns learn about entrepreneurship, conservation and ecology.
“We have experts coming from all sorts of fields in ecology, specific to this region, so they’re going to be learning about different opportunities for entrepreneurship and different opportunities for industry in this area having to do with ecology and preservation so they can make an impact here where they live,” said Patrick Ball, an internship coordinator for ODU VMASC.
The five-week internship is a mixture of work in a room at The IncuHub and research onsite at Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve.
“I learned about this through my guidance counselor,” said Kayla Parada, an intern and rising senior in Portsmouth Public Schools. “I thought it was a great opportunity.”
Brooks says it’s this real-world experience that can give students a leg up in turning an interest into a career.
“We learn what we love by doing it. Internships give our youth the opportunity to do things and figure out what they love and also what they don’t,” she said.
The NextGen Regional Internship Program is also looking for businesses to host interns. Brooks says her program provides not only pay but worker’s compensation and liability insurance. Businesses just have to provide the opportunity to work and learn.