By Kathy Collins

Students need education as well as real life job experience in order to be successful. It is with this in mind, that the Hillsborough Education Foundation hosted its first Student Internship Fair this year. These are paid internships. Seeing the value in the program, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation provided a grant of $40,000 for this program.

The Hillsborough Education Foundation has paired more than 20 local non-profits with 35 Hillsborough County High School students.

Bill Goede, Tampa Bay president of Bank of America, said of their contribution, “As the nonprofit founding partner, we’re excited to work with the Hillsborough Education Foundation to connect students with summer jobs and raise their awareness of the important role they will play as future business and community leaders striving to create vibrant economies. Internship partnerships with Tampa Bay nonprofits are a natural fit that will provide the students with on-the-job training and the nonprofits with the extra manpower they need.”

According to the Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Virginia McGrath, “Half of the fastest growing occupations in Florida require some training beyond high school, but not a traditional college degree. The many Career and Technical training programs available in Hillsborough County Public Schools provide opportunities for students to find a focused career path. The Foundation hopes that these internships will provide invaluable experience for promising students preparing to enter the workforce.”

McGrath added, “More than 14 percent of Hillsborough County youth ages 16-24 are not in school and not working, which is higher than the national average.”

Students from the greater Brandon area are participating in the program and are working at organizations and local non-profits such as the Plant City Family YMCA, the United Food Bank of Plant City and the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s Office.

In order to qualify, students must be either a junior or a senior in a Hillsborough County public school. They must be enrolled in a CTE (Career and Technical Education) program, be 17 years old and have reliable transportation.

For organizations and local nonprofits to participate, they must be prepared to pay $2,500 to cover compensation and related expenses. In addition, they must be looking to hire a paid intern for the summer of 2016.

Visit www.educationfoundation.com.