Miami High News

Making it Rain Over the Summer

The Summer Jobs Miami Connect program allowed students to be productive during their break by engaging in paid internships.

The Summer Jobs Miami Connect program allowed students to be productive during their break by engaging in paid internships.

The Summer Jobs Miami Connect program allowed students to be productive during their break by engaging in paid internships.

By Ariel Trueba, News Editor

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Many high school students stay home over the summer playing video games and sleeping all day, but some Miami High students invested in their future by doing a paid internship at a government office through the Summer Jobs Connect Miami program hosted by the City of Miami and funded by the Citi Bank Financial Empowerment Fund.

The program lasted for nine weeks. The first day of work was on June 13th when all student employees had to report to their assigned workplace by 8:30 a.m. Most worked at the Miami Riverside Center (MRC), the city’s administration building, while others worked at City Hall, the police department, or at NET (Neighborhood Enforcement Team) offices. Employees could not work more than thirty-five (35) hours per week, and were paid ($8.10/ hour) by direct deposit every two weeks on Fridays.

As a summer youth employee, I was assigned to Commissioner Francis Suarez’s office because of a special request by the Commissioner. When I was about 8 years old and he first ran for office, he knocked on my door and I answered. He started speaking to my family on why he was the best candidate, and then I began volunteering for his campaign as I am very interested in politics. Ever since that moment, he remained in constant contact with me.

My experience at his office was extraordinary. I had different duties as an intern: speaking to constituents, helping them find public housing, advising the Commissioner on what he should vote for at the City Commission meetings, and attending community outreach events. My favorite community outreach event was a free backpack giveaway at the Shenandoah Branch Library in early August hosted by School Board Member Mari Tere Rojas and Commissioner Suarez.

My favorite workdays were alternating Thursdays when City Commission meetings were held. Many constituents that supported different ordinances and resolutions would come out to speak publicly to the commissioners.

Senior Cesar Flores was a summer youth employee at a NET office where he answered phone calls, assisted constituents, and helped senior citizens apply for transportation programs. “One of my biggest challenges was being screamed at by a constituent for a problem she had encountered with a city department,” he said.

On the other side of town, senior Marlon Banegas worked at the Miami Police Department in the Chief of Police’s office where he helped file different cases and assisted in different office duties. “What I most enjoyed was the freedom my supervisor gave me and how I always felt safe,” he stated.

The program’s main goal was teaching high school students about financial empowerment. “It is very important that students not just stay busy over the summer, but benefit themselves by learning about saving money for their future,” said program director Gissella Sotelo.

The program focused mainly on three schools—Booker T. Washington Senior High School, Miami Jackson Senior High School, and Miami High School—which tend to have many students in low-income families. Students in other schools that come from low-income families were welcome to join the program as long as they lived in the City of Miami.

Miami High’s science department chairperson and BETA advisor Dr. Hueck spread the word to students around March and hosted an informational meeting, and then did interviews in his room. If accepted into the program, students had to undergo tuberculosis and drug tests in order to be able to work for the City of Miami.

Overall, this program has helped many students be more financially empowered and has helped them create connection with different city professionals.

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