City Alive - Tony Monfiletto talking to two students

How to Boost Economic Prosperity: Hire an Intern

Thema Blog, Connecting People and Places, Education, Talent and Skill Development

How to Boost Economic Prosperity: Hire an Intern

By Tony Monfiletto, Future Focused Education Director | August 14, 2018

There is a new vision for prosperity in Albuquerque. It’s a vision that is clearly connected to investing in our people. From the Keller administration’s economic development plan that is cultivating community investment, to programs and initiatives across Albuquerque focused on building local resources, we’re not looking for saviors from other places. Instead, we’re betting on our neighbors and ourselves.

When we are shifting complex systems like our economy, change takes place over five-, ten-, fifteen-year periods. With a long path toward prosperity, we have to ask ourselves, “What will this mean for young people in Albuquerque?” They will be our future leaders and our future workforce. In order to succeed, we will need to consider what new systems can be built to help them realize their promise.

One of the keys is providing young people with access to mentorships that help build professional connections. Internships are a huge part of this equation.

At Future Focused Education we have built an internship program focused on underserved students. We know that teenagers who have not been successful in traditional school settings make choices that can foreclose on their future – and our own.

Future Focused Education is working with local employers who are concerned about workforce needs and want to be a part of the solution. Through the Future Focused Internship Program, forward-thinking employers are contributing to providing underserved and underrepresented students authentic learning experiences that develop skills and character. These students go on to overcome barriers and become successful leaders in their communities and in their future professions.

I’d like to introduce you to Dallas. She will be a junior at Siembra Leadership High School, which is dedicated to educating students through entrepreneurship. The school is designed to re-engage young people who have dropped out or are off-track to graduation by getting their hands dirty with real-life entrepreneurship.  

She was part of the Future Focused Education paid internship program at The Improve Group.  She had a mentor and a lot of different work experiences that have been super valuable to her growth as a young leader. I attended an event with her where she presented what she had learned from her internship to her teachers and co-workers. She talked at length about how her life had changed as a result of real-life work experience. She learned communication skills like email etiquette, which is essential to a professional work setting. She attended staff meetings where she was exposed to expert facilitation to bring staff from desperate points of view to a consensus on how to move their organization forward. She loved watching a skilled leader make everyone feel valued.

That is the preparation our young people need if we are going to grow our economy. They need to see adults use their judgement on behalf of the greater good. They need to know how to write and email. But they also need to see collaboration in real time with real adults. This is fundamental to our future health and prosperity. Young people like Dallas are starving for experiences like she had at The Improve Group. It’s transformative because it helps them see the possibilities and their place in the world.

As we continue our collective work to make Albuquerque healthier and more prosperous, we will all need to play a role. I applaud the Mayor’s economic development plan. That, paired with a youth engagement strategy that is built around formative relationships with adults in real-life work settings, is how we will get there.  


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