Editor’s note: The following story is sponsored by CommunityAmerica Credit Union, a partner of STARTLAND, the parent organization of Startland News. Click here to apply for CommunityAmerica’s virtual innovation internships. Applications close Sunday, April 5.
The arrival of COVID-19 isn’t simply keeping young adults home from school, said Anita Newton. It’s denying them opportunities and leaving many feeling isolated amid an out-of-control situation, she added.
“A typical crisis or problem usually motivates young adults to act. We can volunteer our time, raise money, meet to change things. These actions give us control and make us feel better,” said Newton, chief innovation officer at CommunityAmerica Credit Union. “This pandemic does not lend itself to any of these things. Students feel powerless.”
To combat this potential stagnation among teens, CommunityAmerica this week launched applications for a virtual innovation internship program, running in April and May.
“Many internships have been canceled, and students can’t look for summer jobs,” Newton said. “Gaining real-world experience as a student is the No. 1 thing students can do to set themselves up to win in the job market. With students reeling from changes in their personal life, this gives students a chance to fill their day, acquire new skills and make a difference in the process.”
Click here to apply for the internship program. The deadline is Sunday, April 5.
“Applications have been flooding in, but with technology, we anticipate hiring 100 high school and college interns this summer,” Newton said. “We expect this will be the largest virtual internship in the state of Kansas or Missouri.”
The internship program received 50 applications in the first 24 hours after opening slots.
In addition to providing feedback on CommunityAmerica’s existing services — akin to the credit union’s teen advisory board — student interns will work in remote teams to complete a project to support the community, as well as focusing on such skills as teamwork, critical thinking, and time management.
Teens accepted into the program should expect to meet virtually at 3 p.m. every Monday, spending two to three hours per week on the work between April 9 and May 18. A small cash award will be given to each intern who successfully completes the internship.
CommunityAmerica also is partnering with STARTLAND’s MECA Challenge to give interns an opportunity to develop an idea that addresses the COVID-19 crisis and compete in an optional pitch competition mid-May. Cash prizes will be awarded.
Click here to learn more about MECA Challenge, a sister program to Startland News.
“With school closing, canceled large groups, no hanging out together, the way students interact is gone — leaving a huge void and sense of loss in these student’s lives,” said Newton. “Students have a lot of time. One person told me, ‘I never thought I would say this, but I am sick of watching TikTok videos. I need something to do!’”