Students get new start at LaGuardia internship

Graduates of a 2010 session of the Young Adult Internship Program at Southern Queens Park Association pose for a group shot before their ceremony. Photo by Ivan Pereira
Photo by Ivan Pereira
By Rebecca Henely

Long Island City’s LaGuardia Community College announced earlier this month that 100 graduates had gone through its Young Adult Internship Program.

Funded by a city grant, the program is designed for students ages 16 to 24 who are not working and who are not in school, said M’Shell Patterson, director for the YAIP at LaGuardia.

“The goal is to move that group into full-term or long-term improvement, into skills training or into college,” Patterson said.

YAIP has 19 locations throughout the city, but LaGuardia, at 31-10 Thomson Ave., is the only place where the program is run through a college. LaGuardia received $324,000 to run the internship, an initiative of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Center for Economic Development and the city Department of Youth and Community Development.

It also received an additional $54,000 through the mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative, which is aimed at lessening the disparities between black and Latino young men compared to their white counterparts. As LaGuardia begins its second year conducting the program, 100 students have graduated.

The program lasts 14 weeks. The first three are dedicated to orientation while the last 11 are paid internships of 20 hours a week at $7.25 an hour combined with job counseling and work readiness training.

Patterson said operating the program out of a college has created a sort of one-stop shop for students looking to further their education or careers. Many of the students use the program as a springboard to enter into the college’s undergraduate or general education development programs.

She said it was also natural for the college to partner on this program because it has one of the largest adult and continuing education divisions in the entire City University of New York system.

“Once students are here they appreciate the warmth and the receptivity from the campus family,” Patterson said.

Ridgewood resident Byron Loja, 23, said he signed up for the internship program after being put on academic suspension at Brooklyn College. He said the program gave him help on the job search and résumé writing process, taught him workplace ethics and helped him build social skills. He is now working at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan and plans to go back to Brooklyn College.

“For me, I think it was the best thing that they could do because I was working with real people and they were teaching me very important things about the workplace, about how to help people,” Loja said.

Long Island City resident Ricardo Ramos, 22, said he heard about the program from a newsletter and it helped him think more critically and realistically about his future. He also met a lot of great people through it.

“Not to stretch anything, but it’s really the best program I’ve ever been in,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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