ReadyCT Internships: Connecting Education and Employment
More than 70 business and community leaders, educators, and students gathered in Hartford for ReadyCT’s 2024 Business and Community Partner Breakfast.
The Jan. 31 event highlighted the CBIA affiliate’s internship and career pathways programs, and the value of tapping high school students as part of a talent acquisition strategy.
“For those of you that are not familiar with ReadyCT, we are a statewide nonprofit organization that works to advance academic excellence and career connected learning,” said director of career pathways Gloria Ortiz-Rivera.
As Ortiz-Rivera highlighted, the organization has served more than 1,200 students in work-based learning in schools across Connecticut.
“We certainly don’t do that work alone,” she said. ”We do it in collaboration with our business, our civic, and educational leaders.”
Ortiz-Rivera added that more than 100 businesses have provided internship opportunities for more than 400 students through ReadyCT.
“We sit at the intersection of education and workforce and education and business at ReadyCT and CBIA,” said CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima.
“Right now in Connecticut, we have 90,000 job openings—there’s five job openings for every three unemployed people looking for work.
“This is really a talent acquisition strategy that’s surrounding DEI—a way to solve that workforce challenge with those job openings.”
Bridging the Gap
Lauren Rush, manager of talent acquisition for American Eagle Financial Credit Union, said partnering with ReadyCT helped them take advantage of workplace learning opportunities in the classroom and to connect with students first-hand.
“Bridging the gap between education and the employer is imperative,” she said. “We’re truly setting up the students for success long term for their career.”
“College is not for everybody, but if you can find something that suits you, and then you can work your way up,” said Aniya Caraballo, a CNA at Brookdale South Windsor.
Caraballo, who is also a University of Hartford student, received an internship at Brookdale through ReadyCT.
“The best thing you can do is starting with ReadyCT and getting an internship because you’ll learn what you like, what you don’t like, and it’ll just set you up for success in the future,” she said.
Quality People, Good Values
Brookdale’s executive director David Stevens said the internship program was an answer to their effort to find quality people, with good values, and good strengths.
“It’s exciting to see students who bring us hope in the healthcare world,” said Stevens, who received ReadyCT’s Newcomer of the Year award.
“It’s exciting for the staff because they realize there are really good people out there who will focus on quality of care for the residents.”
“It’s really incredible to see the groundswell of support for the work in the room,” added ReadyCT deputy director Sheryl McNamee.
“Both employers who are already connected to the work and employers who are interested in connecting to the work.”
ReadyCT’s career pathway programs expose high school students to different industries and internship opportunities.
But it also teaches them soft skills like goal setting, communication and problem solving to set them up for success.
“I want you to consider what skills you want your new hires to have on day one,” ReadyCT career pathway program manager Sorceres Rivera-Tamarez told the audience.
“Our work is to prepare our students,” Rivera-Tamarez said. “These skills workshops, we have them attend site visits, so that they see those skills in action.”
“It’s definitely not as we see in the book, following step-by-step stuff,” said Mia Velarde. “It’s more what the residents like”
Like Caraballo, she is a CNA and former intern at Brookdale and University of Hartford student.
“ReadyCT helped me,” she said.
“This is the future of Connecticut’s workforce,” said Rivera-Tamarez. “These are the students that will join us in our neighborhoods as neighbors.”
“These are the students that will join us as colleagues and these are the interns that you are getting.
“These are determined, motivated, excited, and thoroughly prepared interns and students,” she said.
For more information, contact ReadyCT’s José Pabón.
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