Many ETHS students want to go to work full-time as soon as they graduate, and there are several local employers looking to hire them. This June, the iKit Internship Program will provide 12-week paid internships for 15 graduates of the ETHS class of 2021. The Youth Job Center and the City of Evanston Youth and Young Adult Division are funding the internships with the goal of placing interested graduates with employers that can offer full-time employment at the end of the internship. 

Internships provide opportunities for young people to develop skills and experience while learning about a particular field. An internship typically pays more than an entry-level job and can lead to a well-paid position as a career professional in a number of industries.

From Intern to Employee

Last summer, Brian Baillie of Greenwise Lawn Care hired Noé N, a 2020 ETHS grad who expressed interest in customer service. After the internship ended, Greenwise brought Noé on as a customer service specialist.

Noé said working at Greenwise, “has given me a ton of experience, not only in customer service, but remote work and interacting with people in an office. It’s a really great working environment. I really enjoy the company of my co-workers and the experience.”

“Noé picked up the software, learned it really quickly and is really diligent,” said Mr. Baillie.

This year, Greenwise is looking for someone interested in working in operations as a turf care specialist. In addition to on-the-job training, Greenwise will pay for the intern to study to pass a licensing exam that will allow them to apply fertilizer commercially. 

Mayor’s Employers Advisory Council, A Business and Education Partnership

The iKit Internship Program is an initiative of the Mayor’s Employers Advisory Council (MEAC). The group has 134 members representing a growing number of Evanston businesses as well as ETHS, Youth Job Center, and Oakton Community College.

Now in its third year, MEAC seeks to connect employers looking to hire and train young professionals with students interested in career opportunities that do not necessarily require a four-year college degree. Interested ETHS seniors need to apply and indicate their career interests so they can be matched with the right participating employer.

MEAC Chair Neil Gambow says, “It’s important to make students and their parents aware of the many different career paths available to them.”

This academic year, MEAC has worked closely with Tana Francellno of ETHS and the Youth Job Center to sponsor a series of panels highlighting different domains, from careers in healthcare to culinary and the arts.

Each panel features three or four local employers who talk about their own journeys as well as the opportunities available to students in their industries. A representative of Oakton Community College also participates to explain how the school offers courses leading to certifications that are recommended or required for certain jobs. 

The most recent panel focused on agriculture, food, and natural resources. Darrell King, the Water Production Bureau Chief for the City of Evanston, described two apprenticeship opportunities at the Water Department that can lead to full time employment as a water worker or water plant operator.

Matt Wechsler from Village Farmstand described his transition from documentary filmmaker to owner of the Village Farmstand on Dempster Street, a “year-round farmers market,” and shared his plans to purchase a farm in central Illinois that will offer internships for ETHS students interested in agribusiness.

Alan Moy talked about the restaurant business, the expansion of Viet Nom Nom, and celebrating employee longevity in an industry often associated with high turnover. Mr. Baillie and Christoph Odenthal described opportunities in organic turf care and landscape design with Greenwise

Mr. Baillie said he felt lucky to have access to ETHS student interns for developing new full-time employees. He added the process is easy for employers. ETHS identifies the students who are the best fit for the company and after an interview process, the company selects an intern. 

He added that Greenwise will continue to participate in the iKit Internship Program and hopes to be able to offer ETHS graduates full-time jobs every year. “With the trajectory of the company, there is the possibility. I love being a part of this and getting these homegrown kids into a homegrown company. It benefits everyone.” 

For rising seniors in the class of 2022, MEAC is working with Evanston Work Ethic, started by the Hecky Powell Foundation.  MEAC and WE will provide six-week paid internships this year and participants in the 6-week program can “graduate” to the iKit Program next year. 

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