Student Summer Internships Skyrocket Thanks to Partnership with JPPSS, LDOE, Local Business & Industry

The Jefferson Parish Public School System increased its number of students by five times who are becoming career-ready through the Louisiana Department of Education’s Jump Start Summers.

Jump Start Summers helps high school students prepare for college, career, and life by giving them the opportunity to attain high-demand industry-based credentials, master essential workplace “soft skills,” and earn academic credit during the summer. Students earn a summer wage while gaining invaluable experience working onsite or participating in hands-on, on-site field trips with the sponsoring industry partners.

“It’s been a great success,” said JPPSS Director of Career and Technical Education Lucy Lejeune. “We’ve gotten business and industry involved. We can do this with our kids, but it’s so much better when you have industry to help train the kids.”

JPPSS was one of the districts to pilot Jump Start Summers in 2017. From less than 20 students and one location last year, the program grew to more than 100 students and nine different sites around the district this summer. This year’s skilled trades included information technology, automotive, machine shop, and carpentry.

Walker Motor Corp is one of the local businesses partnering with JPPSS. Nine students from the Bonnabel Magnet Academy automotive program interned with technicians at Walker Acura in Metairie. Under the tutelage of trained and certified technicians, students learned foundational skills like changing oil and tires, as well as how to work on a transmission and any other knowledge their mentors could share.

“We’re very happy to have Bonnabel students here,” said Walker Motor Corp Owner Susan Walker. “We’re offering internships for them and hopefully they will be homegrown and skilled enough to come back and work in our dealership.”

Jump Start Summers is just a small part of the JPPSS Career and Technical Education program. JPPSS students earned over 3,400 industry-based credentials last school year. That’s more than double the number from three years ago. The summer program will grow too, and Lejeune is eager to expand her partnerships with local business and industry. She said the most pressing fields for future expansion are early childhood, STEM, and coastal erosion.

“There will be a lot of connecting and continuing possibilities because of what we started here this summer,” said Lejeune.