GardHouse, a local nonprofit, wants to increase the number of students with careers after college by helping them gain experience now.
Last year the organization helped nine students get 16-week long, paid internships. This year, they did the same for 40 students. Internships offer students meaningful experience to help them attract employers upon graduation.
GardHouse places students in fields ranging from carpentry to marketing. Those accepted into the program choose which industry to intern for.
The internships pay $20 an hour and students receive financial literacy education as well as career coaching through GardHouse.
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Local partners of the program include 100 Black Men of Charlotte, the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, small businesses, and more.
How does it work?
Jonathan Gardner, founder and executive director of GardHouse, said interns are selected through a three-part interview process.
GardHouse finds interested students by attending career fairs at local universities like Johnson C. Smith and UNC Charlotte.
Prospective students are pre-screened to ensure they’re “really passionate” about their desired position.
Gardner said the organization wants to ensure it is “reaching into” local and regional historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
GardHouse holds a $500,000 annual threshold for employee partners. Partners that meet the threshold pay the interns with their own money. GardHouse subsidizes funds for those that do not meet the threshold through support support from Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Ally Financial.
Participating students are required to attend four workshops throughout the year of their internship. The workshops measure interns’ professional development and growth.
Gardner also said students’ performance is measured through a “success form” completed at the beginning of internship.
Why does it matter?
Research has shown that Black graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts and less likely to get paid internships. This presents a barrier considering that most paid internships lead to full-time employment.
The impact of the program extends to participating businesses as well. According to Gardner, many of the nonprofits GardHouse partners with cannot hire full-time staff.
“Being able to have someone come in for 16 weeks and work on a project really goes a long way for them,” said Gardner.
GardHouse will hold three virtual information sessions for businesses and non-profits interested in learning more about becoming a partner of the organization.