Denver Public Schools internship program helps prepare students for college, future careers

Denver Public Schools Launch Internship Program
Posted at 9:45 PM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 00:25:20-04

DENVER — A program at Denver Public Schools aims to help prepare students for the transition to college, as well as their future careers.

DPS describes its Launch Internship Program as "a professional internship program where students gain first-hand experience in a high-interest career. High school students develop skills and gain valuable experience in internships aligned with industry clusters."

The program began in 2016. Between 2016 and 2022, Launch Internship Program students graduated high school and went to college at higher rates than the district average, according to DPS.

"We're giving them the necessary skills that they need to be successful in any post-secondary option that they decide to take on," said Charlene West, who manages the Launch Internship Program.

Students can get experience in a variety of fields, including science, engineering, and marketing. Students receive school credit and even get paid for the internships.

"I actually really like it. It's really fun," said Caryela Ruiz, a junior at Bruce Randolph High School. "Really hands-on stuff."

Students in the program generally intern for five to 10 hours per week.

Ruiz works in a lab at the CSU Spur. She tests soil content and generates reports for customers, often farmers. The customers use that information to plan out their use of the soil.

Ruiz said the experience has provided her with a true understanding of what adulthood could look like.

"Without this opportunity, it's like, I don't know what I would be doing," she said. "This gives me a chance to know what I could do in the future."

Sophomore Evangelyna Romero, who also works in the science lab at the CSU Spur, said the internship is the highlight of her day.

"I never thought in a million years that I would be doing something outside of school," she said. "There's so many opportunities out there. There's so many programs out there that you could do anything."

To obtain internships, students must go through an application and interview process. West said students can start preparing for the fall 2024 application process right now.

"Start working on your resume. And start maybe thinking about what you're interested in," said West.

When a student is ready to apply, they should fill out an interest form and contact a navigator at their school. West said students shouldn't let perfectionism stop them from applying.

"We're not expecting high schoolers to have it all figured out," she said.

The program is currently offered at 19 DPS high schools. Schools that want to implement the program can contact West for more information.

To learn more about the program, including how to apply, click here.

The Launch Internship Program is also looking for more businesses to get involved. For more information, click here.

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