Not unlike a lot of high school students his age, Richard Jones, 17, just needed a little nudge in the right direction from someone who cared to see his career goals begin to take shape. His principal at San Andreas High School, Mr. Hensley, noticed Jones was getting a bit off track with his studies and suggested that he try out the GenerationGo! paid internship program, a recent partnership between the San Bernardino County Department of Workforce Development, San Bernardino City Unified School District, and San Bernardino Valley College.
As part of this program, Jones was able to acquire college credits, achieve valuable work experience, and receive a certificate in an in-demand field, all before graduating high school.
Through GenerationGo!, Jones and his high school classmates co-enrolled at San Bernardino Valley College, earning college credit while getting paid internships with regional employers. “Once I got into the Valley College program, I’ve seen that there’s more to the world,” said Jones, now a senior at San Andreas.
After completing a workforce readiness class at SBVC, Jones was recruited for a paid internship at Garner Holt Productions in Redlands, one of the world’s leading animatronics manufacturers. According to Jones, interning at Garner Holt offered him a creative new way of thinking about a career in robotics technology and even helped him form better relationships with his family. Thanks to his experience in the program, he is now considering a career in mechanical engineering.
“I like that I’m able to see how people can take ideas from their head, or from a piece of paper and actually make it something real, something you can touch, and you can see and actually experience it,” he said.
Prior to starting with Garner Holt, Jones says he would often get discouraged when facing setbacks in his school projects and give up too quickly. The paid internship has challenged him to stay focused and engaged. “When you get a project here, no matter what, you have to somehow make that project work…it kind of taught me to keep pushing for it,” he said.
Now in its second year, the county’s GenerationGo! program continues to expand its enrollment among area high schools. SBVC’s spring 2019 cohort is expected to have over 280 participants.
For more information on GenerationGo!, visit http://wp.sbcounty.gov/workforce/youth/. For more information on SBVC’s free (zero tuition) workforce readiness programs, visithttp://www.valleycollege.edu/workforce.