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Looking Back: Community Internship Program Graduates Reflect On What They Gained

One academic semester after the completion of their summer experiences, Community Internship Program alumni reflect on the long-lasting benefits of their work.

The Community Internship Program (CIP), part of The Jewish Federation’s Los Angeles Jewish Teen Initiative (LAJTI), provides paid four-week summer internships for rising high school juniors and seniors at a range of Jewish nonprofit organizations.

These prominent organizations, such as the Jewish Journal and Bet Tzedek, provide the teen interns with professional experience in fields of their interest. The teens worked at their respective internship placements Monday through Thursday for four consecutive weeks. Every Friday during the four-week period, the cohort came together for additional professional development, reflection, and team building at The Jewish Federation.

Indeed, one of the goals of CIP is to provide teenagers with tangible work experience. “We recognize that many teens today are looking to their futures and how to bolster their portfolios with an internship or a job,” said Jessica Green, the Director of the LA Jewish Teen Initiative. “We feel that CIP is unique in its value in that it provides a glimpse into the breadth of Jewish Los Angeles, as well as an introduction to the non-profit sector, one of the fastest growing sectors in our country.”

No matter their assignments, which ranged from supporting the LA Museum of the Holocaust to working in a legal clerk’s office, participants say they gained invaluable workplace skills that will help them better navigate their professional futures.

Here are some of the real-world lessons alumni say they absorbed through their participation in CIP:

Skill Building

CIP alumni said that their internships helped enhance specific professional and personal skills such as communication.

“I learned a tremendous amount at my internship, position-related and more general. My research, writing, and analytical skills were all challenged, along with abilities like communication, obedience, and leadership. I was also introduced to a lot of new concepts about the Holocaust and the way museums work.”
Intern at LAMOTH (Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust)

“I now use a lot of the work and communication skills — especially phone skills! — that I learned during my internship very frequently, and I know that they will help me in the future. I also made relationships that I still have and hope to keep in the future.”
– Intern at Beit T’Shuvah

“Since the internship ended I have definitely felt more confident in my interaction with adults. Having to call donors I didn’t know forced me to work on my communication skills. Obtaining these skills has made me more engaged in conversations with adults, which I believe is an incredibly important life skill.”
– Intern at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Campaign Dept.

Attitude

Participants said they learned how approaching work with a positive attitude could transform their work experience.

“The internship affected my life because I saw the passion my supervisor and other people in my office had for what they do. One of my biggest takeaways from this experience would be that when I go into something with a good attitude, I will accomplish that task faster and do a better job.”
Intern at Bet Tzedek

“The most meaningful part of the experience was knowing that all the work I was doing, would be going to a good cause and benefiting something greater than just myself. It was also very meaningful for me to be exposed to an environment that I do not normally see and meet new people I would not otherwise get the opportunity to meet.”
Intern at Beit T’Shuvah

Preparing for College and Work

By providing a unique opportunity to work in a professional environment, CIP gave alumni a valuable preview of life in college and the workplace.

“Aside from putting the experience on my college resume, the workshops at the Federation also made me feel much more prepared for my college interviews and applications. High school internships are rare, paid high school internships are rarer, and a program coupled with workshops like this one is basically impossible to find elsewhere. I felt respected by the Federation, respected by LAMOTH, and I felt like I had something to contribute to both.”
– Intern at LAMOTH

“I would definitely apply to the internship program again, as it is a successful way to learn and develop valuable work experience while developing [professionally/personally] with a group of peers.”
– Intern at StandWithUs

“I learned so many valuable things this summer, but I think the most important was knowing how to act in a real work environment. It helped me gain real work experience, which will be very helpful for future applications.”
– Intern at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Campaign Dept.

Jewish Nonprofit Exposure

CIP alumni also expressed the unique added value of working for a Jewish nonprofit.

“Ever since I was in first grade, I have gone to Hebrew school. This past May I was confirmed at my temple. The internship this summer allowed me to stay involved in my Jewish community even after being confirmed.”
– Intern at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Campaign Dept.

“The fact that the internship was for nonprofit organizations really drew me in because I am very interested in community service and the nonprofit field. I also really like that it was all Jewish organizations and affiliated with the Federation since I no longer go to a Jewish school and am not as exposed to my Jewish roots very much.”
– Intern at Beit T’Shuvah

“The fact that the internship was only at Jewish nonprofits was an additional plus, providing me with a way to give back to my community.”
– Intern at LAMOTH

Want to apply for this unique opportunity for professional and personal enrichment? CIP Applications are due January 17th! Apply here.

The Los Angeles Jewish Teen Initiative’s Community Internship Program offers teens an opportunity to gain real work experience through paid internships with leading Jewish non-profit organizations. This is a unique way for teens to contribute to organizations that support and impact our community, build professional skills, learn from mentors, and create a network of Jewish peers. For more information about the Community Internship Program, e-mail Jessica Green at JGreen@JewishLA.org or call (323) 761-8343.

A program of the L.A. Jewish Teen Initiative, co-funded by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jim Joseph Foundation, with seed funding provided by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. Special thanks to Dahlia and Art Bilger, initiators and funders of our Community Internship Program.

*The full list of 2016 participating nonprofit organizations is as follows: American Jewish University School of Nonprofit Management, BBYO, Builders of Jewish Education (BJE), Beit T’Shuvah, Bet Tzedek, Creative Community for Peace, Friendship Circle, Friends of IDF, Hillel 818, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Jewish Family Service – Israel Levin Center, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, The Jewish Federation Valley Alliance, Jewish Journal, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), JQ International, Jewish World Watch, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH), National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Skirball Cultural Center, StandWithUs, USC Hillel, Westside JCC, and Zimmer Children’s Museum.