When Martin Bros., a Los Angeles-based construction and engineering firm, decided to partner with TIP and take on 10 interns for the summer, no one anticipated COVID-19 would make meeting in-person all but impossible. But Heather Powen, Director of Marketing and Community Relations, rose to the challenge and created a virtual learning experience by providing the interns with industry-standard digital rendering and 3D modeling software and assigning them real world architecture, engineering, and construction projects.
Toni, a 11th grader, was a bit skeptical about what her work experience would be, but the internship far exceeded her expectations. “This being my first internship… when I realized it was going to be virtual, I thought Martin Bros. was going to give us an Excel sheet and some data to put in and that was it. But they brought a lot to us—a lot of knowledge, a lot of engagement, and they were really there for us. They genuinely wanted us to succeed.”
Another intern, Nelson, who will be attending engineering school at UC Berkeley in the fall, saw Martin Bros. as a perfect pre-college learning experience for him. Because the internship was so short, Nelson found himself immersed in his work almost immediately, and his swift adaptability paid off. “After downloading SketchUp Pro, I was thinking we’d have a week of pure training before they assigned us a project, but now when I look back, I’m grateful that they just gave us a project and said, ‘Figure it out.’ There was a learning curve, obviously, but not as much as I thought there’d be.”
One look at all the final presentations from the TIP 2020 cohort confirmed a remarkable amount of success over a very short period of time. In just four weeks, the interns produced several 3D models of structures they designed for ways to make inhabited spaces more usable and beautiful. Toni designed a rechargeable electric scooter station powered by a uniquely curved solar panel roof, which provided sustainable energy while also enhancing the structure’s curb appeal. She also imagined how a UCLA dorm room could utilize rainscreen walls by embedding them directly into the structure, thus preventing erosion and making the building more sustainable over time.
Nelson spent a lot of his time focusing on all the little details of the spaces he created, using the software to eke out the correct dimensions and proportions of each room he designed. He found himself having to think like a real engineer, which was one of his primary goals for the internship and something that his supervisor encouraged all the interns to think about from the beginning. “It was extremely helpful for me to come into a new internship already knowing what I wanted to attain by the end of it. I took a computer course that did 3D modeling [in high school], and it would’ve taken weeks for them to get to this point! Having everything move at a faster pace allowed me to unlock a part of me that I didn’t know I had: I could learn something very quickly if I put my mind and effort into it. It’s a lesson I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
But Toni’s biggest takeaway was understanding how vast and diverse the engineering field can be. Even though Toni also has an interest in engineering and is studying STEM subjects in high school, Toni was pleasantly surprised by the range of opportunities Martin Bros. provides as a company. “[Before my internship] I didn’t even know Building Information Modelling (BIM) existed, and now I’m glad I do know because I will consider that career for myself in the future.” In the meantime, Toni recently interviewed for a new in-person job to carry her through the rest of the summer. “Luckily, I talked about my experience with Martin Bros. in the interview and gave them an updated resume. I just started working yesterday!”
What do tacos, soap, and fly swatters have in common? TIP interns will soon find out as they repurpose their homes into makeshift laboratories for LATTC’s Applied Sciences department this summer.
When Dr. Artemio Navarro and Dr. Martin Diaz initially decided to take on interns, they started with two inquiry questions: What are the best practices to engage and retain community college students studying STEM, with an emphasis on students of color, and how could they use TIP interns to investigate this for them? But once COVID-19 hit, they knew they would also have to ask another more practical question: Where would students conduct their experiments?
They came up with “The Science of …” series, a project that asks LATTC students to investigate the science behind household items and commonly used products and tools. “The idea emanated from Dr. Velveth Klee (another scientist in the Applied Sciences department), who has done so much work on inspiring future generations of STEM students, and we wanted to see how we could build on her idea,” Dr. Navarro said. Because they weren’t sure what their students might find interesting, they decided to turn the reins over to their TIP interns to research topics, provide learning tools, and advise the instructors on ways to make the material palatable to their incoming college students. This opportunity will not only allow our interns to help build college-level curriculum that will be implemented by the department in the fall, but it also expands their knowledge in engineering, chemistry, biotechnology, and physics.
It sounds a little daunting for a group of high schoolers, right? But here’s where the project gets innovative, and fun! Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, the student’s lab will be their home and the materials they’ll be experimenting with include tacos, soap, laundry detergent, fly swatters, and mirrors. The aim is to meet students (literally) where they are and to allow for an individual, self-guided learning experience. How does that also help our interns? It gives them some insight into what it’s like to be a scientist—how they use their own natural curiosity to create an inquiry question and follow that lead to its conclusion. “Because we are not only their employers for the summer, but also coming from an education perspective, we wanted to create an experience that translates directly into the world our students are living in and give them the tools they can use to find the answers they’re looking for, “ said Dr. Navarro.
How might this summer change our interns’ perceptions about the world they live in? How many of them might shift their own focus to science once they return to school in the fall? What bonds might they form with their supervisors that could lead to a career in applied science? “We are hoping to not only broaden these interns’ experiences with science but also introduce them to our department and let them know that LATTC is here as a resource for them,” said Dr. Diaz. This sentiment mirrors one of the key objectives of the Career Pathway Connections grant, awarded to LA Promise Fund in 2019 as part of an initiative to connect more South Los Angeles students to college and career opportunities with LATTC. “We hope that with this internship, alongside dual enrollment credit for all our TIP interns, this summer will deepen LAPF’s partnership with LATTC and encourage more of students to take advantage of what LATTC has to offer,” said Leslie Aaronson, Director of Career Pathway Connections at LA Promise Fund.
“I’m all about social justice, I’m all about impact, I’m all about creating spaces for communities of color, people who are unrepresented in tech, women, women of color, just really trying to be that person that keeps that door open behind me and creates new pathways for folks.” – Lauryn Nwankpa, TIP Business of You panelist and Head of Social Impact at Dave: Banking For Humans
Last week, we started another summer with The Intern Project. And while this year will be markedly different than those of the past, one thing remains consistent: Our students will be preparing to take on real world challenges in an ever-changing global landscape. In 2020, perhaps the word “challenge” is an understatement. With the introduction of COVID-19, there has been a complete and utter dismantling of the ways in which we have worked, learned, and lived as a society; literally nothing is the same as it was, and it may never be again. Adding to the pandemic is our current public conversation about racial injustice and inequity, issues that have been central to the work of LA Promise Fund since its inception. Those of us on the TIP Team asked: How can we expand this conversation through our work with young people looking to navigate these issues in the professional world? How can we prepare them to be successful in spaces that are not necessarily designed for their inclusion and advancement? And how are we addressing these concerns with our professional partners?
We decided to incorporate our inquiry into TIP Orientation Week by inviting a diverse group of professionals from our community to speak to our students about the importance of being themselves in a way that reconfigures rather than reaffirms the status quo. Our Business of You panel, led exclusively by people of color, shared their personal experiences in the workforce and proved to our students that not only is inclusion possible, this is happening every day—and our panelists are the living proof of that success. Our students can now embark on the first steps of their professional journeys with a vision of hope, trust, and acceptance because they have role models whom they can access for advice and support through the TIP community.
While the work of dismantling inequality is its own ongoing praxis, we are also faced with operative challenges as we continue to adjust to a post-COVID way of life. But as educators, we are also lifelong learners, and this year, the TIP Team will be taking on the task of growing our skillset alongside our student interns. The Intern Project will be 100% virtual for the first time. Students will report to work remotely and participate in online learning through our partnership with LA Trade Tech, receiving college credit for their work experience. Our Career Days and other programming will be shared online as well, allowing us for the first time to engage with students who weren’t able to be placed in an internship this year. This new virtual setting creates more opportunities to invest in our community, and we can’t wait to share what we’re discovering with you. If we’ve learned anything about this year, it’s that 2020 is full of surprises. And we’ll be adapting as we go, in real time, utilizing the voices of our students, partners, and educators to narrate their experiences. Please continue to follow our story here.
How did your friendship amplify or complement the benefits of your internship?
Although our internship itself was very exciting, becoming friends with each other helped make the experience even more fun. Whenever we left we’d take the bus together which made the ride much more enjoyable and less lonely. And now that internships are over, we make a point to stay in contact through our social media such as Instagram.
What do you think makes your friendship special and unique?
Our friendship is special and unique because we have similar moral values and ideas that we think is not easy to find within young people these days. Though we come from different backgrounds, we were surprised by how similarly we think. We’re both goofy and try to see the best of every situation. So when we hang out together we’re able to be very happy and positive because we feed off of each other’s energy.
Be friendly! Put yourself out there and make it known that you’re interested in keeping in touch. Exchange numbers or even just social media accounts, it’ll go a long way. And don’t be afraid to send that first message.
What would be your advice for future TIP interns on how to build and maintain friendships?
Mary: Always stay open to potential opportunities and be comfortable with yourself and the people around you. If you put an uncomfortable, stiff barrier around yourself, no one wants to risk getting rejected by you when they may want to be friends.
Ray: Be friendly! Put yourself out there and make it known that you’re interested in keeping in touch. Exchange numbers or even just social media accounts, it’ll go a long way. And don’t be afraid to send that first message.
What's next for you after high school? Has TIP made any influence on your future plans?
Mary: After high school and college, I wish to live in either New York, Seattle, or California (where I am right now) and become an art/creative director in a great fun company. The internship through TIP made me realize that I really have passion for the media/entertainment and my hobbies will most likely consist of creating YouTube videos, photography, and traveling with the people I love!
Ray: I will be attending college and most likely pursue a major in Psychology. TIP has definitely influenced my future plans. My internship at Fullscreen solidified my dream of being a part of the entertainment industry. So in college I will continue to pursue that dream through internships and various other opportunities.
Raimundo created and produced this week's feature, where he talks about his experience as a summer intern at Fullscreen. Check it out below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Yoseph Jackson and I go to San Pedro High School.
Where did you intern?
I interned at Ares Management this summer.
What have you learned at your internship?
I was in HR so I learned a lot about how to interact with different people. I think that’s really cool because I like talking to others and getting to know their story. And because I’m a really social person, I learned how to interact with people in a professional way and still be friendly. I also learned that Ares Management went public recently, so I’ve been looking into investing some money I’ve earned from my internship and I’m also reading up on how stocks work.
How did you become so interested in entrepreneurship?
I used to visit my family in Mexico a lot, and my grandpa would take me to this place called “Tianguis”, which is like a large, open flea market. Some of the vendors would try to hike up the prices on me because they didn’t think I could speak Spanish. So in return, I would surprise them with my Spanish and negotiate prices - I really liked that feeling! I also think that I could run my own business one day and it’s something I’m good at. I already have a business idea with my Dad that’s brewing right now, so I’m excited about that.
My dad always tells me, “You have to go out into the world and do better than me and your mom. That’s the goal.... you go somewhere and show them what you can do, and that should always be your absolute best, so give it your all.”
What do you think is the most valuable thing you've learned so far?
I got to schedule one on one coffee meetings with some other interns and full-time staff to talk about their jobs and what they like, don’t like. I think it’s important for me to hear their experiences so I can have a better idea about the career I want to pursue. And like I mentioned earlier, it’s so important to know how to be professional. I learned that I can build a relationship and be nice or friendly to people, but I can still be professional at the same time. I think I’ve found the balance and I know that can help me in my daily life-- like my interactions with my teachers and peers.
How has this shaped what you want to do in the future?
I’ve learned that I don’t want to be in a traditional office setting. I really like being active and meeting with people, and making deals. I definitely want to be a CEO someday.
If you could give a future TIP intern advice, what would it be?
My dad always tells me, “You have to go out into the world and do better than me and your mom. That’s the goal.” So, have a positive and go-getter mindset. I was raised to always strive for excellence and to always do my best. It’s not like you go somewhere to do your worst-- you go somewhere and show them what you can do, and that should always be your absolute best, so give it your all.