They may be young, but don’t call them kids. Or children, for that matter. According to Martin Chavez, Human Resources Division Officer for the Port of Los Angeles and Director of the 2011 ITEP/POLA Summer Internship Program, the fifty-four young men and women participating this year should be called students and held to this standard in terms of seeking knowledge and personal responsibility. “A kid is a baby goat…something less than human and not deserving of our respect or investment. Our students need to see themselves as worthy.” Chavez helps his students achieve this goal by constantly holding them to the highest standards and employing a “tough love” approach. The result has been 12 years of successfully helping students realize their potential and learn to take pride in themselves, while acquiring hands-on work experience. “This program isn’t just a summer job, it’s about self development” said Chavez.
Since its launch in 2001, the ITEP/POLA Internship Program has grown from 15 companies and 15 International Trade Academy (ITA) students to this year’s class of 54, which includes participants from all four ITEP Academies at Banning High School. This year 35 companies and organizations are participating. In addition to the Port of Los Angeles, which alone takes 14 interns in nine of its departments, other selected maritime industry employers include ACTA, APL, Cal Cartage, SA Recycling, Moffatt & Nichol, U.S. Coast Guard, and Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals. For the first time this year, the Program will welcome three Global Business Academy (GBA) interns from Carson High School to participate in the Friday workshops.
An exciting development this year is the addition of Gabriela Perez as the new Intern Coordinator. Perez will take over for Cynthia Jaime who set the bar in terms of program implementation and became a fixture among the Banning students. In her final year at UCLA, Gabriela is a product of the ITEP/POLA Internship Program. In 2006 she interned in POLA’s Financial Management division. Chavez noted, “I always hoped to close the loop, see a student complete the program, attend college, and give back to the program.” Over the past four years at the annual Internship Culmination Ceremony, students have given their heartfelt thanks to Jaime’s dedication and commitment to ensuring their success in completing the program. Soon Gabriela Perez will be receiving her own kudos from students.
Working alongside Chavez and Perez this year is Eli Romero, Program Specialist in the Youth Opportunity Center of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network. Eli has done a phenomenal job in recruiting employers for the program, as well as assisting students to be successful in their internships.
ITEP thanks everyone who has helped make this program successful, including the 35 employers who are hosting our interns. Chavez notes, “We can’t turn students around in two months, but we can give them a whole lot of ideas to turn themselves around. Hopefully every student learns something and carries it with them.