The DPS Career Program opened up many different opportunities for TJ students last summer.
Over the summer, a group of select Spartans had the opportunity to experience life in the working world through the Denver Public Schools Career Connect program. Career Connect is a six-week summer internship program that allows students to use their talents and abilities working alongside adults in the workplace to gain crucial hands-on experience. The program operates in every DPS high school and connects students to jobs at different companies across the great city of Denver.
Each high school in DPS has an internship coordinator, who recruits students taking Career Technical Education (CTE) courses to apply for an internship during the summer. The internship coordinator at TJ is Danny Showers, who works to ensure students receive the best experiences possible from their CTE classes. Showers explained that TJ has two different tracks students can take: business and technology. Students must compose a resume and have an in-person interview in order to obtain a summer internship. At total of 31 TJ students participated in the program this summer. Showers hopes more students will participate in upcoming summers, clarifying, “The goal of myself and the administration at TJ is seeing how many students we can get seriously interested in the program, and how many people we can realistically retain in the program.”
Students were offered different internships in businesses working in an office setting. Among these students were sophomore Alice Larm and junior Craig Patterson. Larm worked for Colorado Lending Source in downtown Denver, doing tasks such as scanning loan forms into a new computer database for the company. Her work experience taught her a variety of lessons for life in the workforce, adding, “It helped me understand the responsibilities I needed for a job like getting myself to and from work every day and interacting in an appropriate way with all of my coworkers.” Larm encourages people to keep an open mind and learn what they can from others because everyone has a unique role that can benefit those around them. Fortune 500 commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) employed Patterson as an intern this summer. Patterson helped his boss compose contract proposals and helped satisfy client needs. Working in the corporate world isn’t easy, but he now feels confident in the corporate workforce from his internship experience at JLL. He explained that perception is everything in the corporate world and to always present oneself in a professional manner at all times. Through Patterson’s hard work, he caught the attention of many important people including his boss and program leaders, and he was even featured in a promotional video for the DPS Career Connect program. “My favorite memory was getting to eat lunch and talk with Mayor Hancock,” stated Patterson.
In a world growing more dependent on technology, students including junior Ben Robinson and senior Ryan Cecil had the opportunity to participate in internships. Robinson spent six weeks of his summer employed at the idea lab at the Hampden branch of the Denver Public Library. As a Team Tech, he answered questions from customers regarding technology. At the idea lab, he worked on many different projects, which were presented at a portfolio event at the Mile High Stadium. One of his creations was a Spartan helmet made out of acrylic using a laser cutter, which he presented to Assistant Principal Jon Poole. Reflecting upon his time as an intern, Robinson stated, “The most important thing I learned was to be flexible because if people don’t understand each other it makes it difficult to get work done.” Cecil worked for Denver Public Schools’ media department completing different graphic design projects such as designing different logos. When asked about why he decided to apply for a summer internship, he responded, “At first I was looking to do it because it was a paid internship, but it ended up being so much more. I got to learn about the school district in which I attend school and how it operates.” Cecil experienced the hectic nature of working in a school district. When DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg abruptly resigned in July, he and his coworkers had to drop everything and communicate this leadership change to the community. While he may have not expected something like this to occur, it was an important reminder that anything can happen in the working world.
The DPS Career Connect program provides TJ students with opportunities to start exploring their futures and potential by allowing them to have a summer experience that most students their age do not ever have.