“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.