Having a college degree makes all the difference in some job searches. But in a field like manufacturing, there’s almost no beating an internship.
“It’s more important to (manufacturing employers) than an actual degree,” said Vice President of Business Development Melinda Brown at the Kern Economic Development Corp.
In recognition of this distinction, and in support of the region’s ongoing economic development work, Bank of America has pledged $100,000 to fund 20 summer internships at local employers coming together under the recently formed Manufacturing Alliance of Kern.
The grant program launches Thursday with an employers-only event from 4 to 6 p.m. at Seven Oaks Country Club, 2000 Grand Lakes Ave. Besides including a check-presentation ceremony and explanation of the upcoming internships opportunity, the event will go over how manufacturers can specify the sort of skills they’re looking for, so that MAK and its partners can identify and deliver the right interns.
Under the terms of the grant, internships candidates must be at least 18 years old and graduates of either the Kern High School District’s Career Technical Education Center or its Regional Occupational Center. Interns won’t be guaranteed a job at the end of the summer, but expectations are that they will gain important exposure to the field, along with a better idea of whether manufacturing is for them.
“It’s just for the summer but it at least gets these kids exposed to work experience and to what they want to do moving forward,” Brown said.
Bank of America’s grants align with the priorities set by the B3K Prosperity economic collaboration — and with good reason: Bank of America’s Bakersfield president, Karen Zuber, has been involved with the effort since the effort’s beginning in 2000.
The manufacturing alliance grew out of the B3K collaboration, as did Kern Intern connections, a separate organization housed by KEDC’s nonprofit arm, the Kern Economic Development Foundation.
While KIC is just getting started, Bank of America has been involved with earlier efforts to promote internships. Locally, it has supported unpaid internships as well as paid opportunities, Zuber noted. What’s different about the MAK program, she said, is that it brings together educators, nonprofits and employers themselves.
The bottom-line measure of success, she said, will be the number of interns ultimately given full-time, permanent work after their internships.
“It’s just a great opportunity for youth to have the opportunity to show employers, put the education to work,” she said, adding that the program ties into the bank’s strategic goal of improving people’s financial lives. “Give them that right foot forward for their future.”
Brown said that since MAK’s first meeting in April, employer involvement has continued to increase such that there are now about 20 companies represented at every meeting. She noted that a common theme has been the challenge of funding an adequate number of potential employees.
Information about the event is available by calling Brown at 661-862-5058 or emailing her at email@example.com.