Melbourne, FL.- MC Assembly, a leading electronic manufacturing services provider, is helping CareerSource Brevard (CSB) and the City of Palm Bay expand their “Juniors to Jobs” (J2J) high school work readiness program internship options. This year the program has opened up to seniors and recent graduates allowing for older students to participate in a wider range of internships that require a student to be 18 or older.

For the first time, MC Assembly is hosting five interns from the J2J program working in the departments of human resources, finance, engineering and production.

“This program allows the students to get “real-world” work experience,” said Brian Kingston, MC Assembly’s Human Resources Director. “We hope the interns decide to enter a career in manufacturing but if not, at least we are able show them what we do and the impact manufacturing has on the world today.”

“We are glad to see the City of Palm Bay open up the age limit this year so that MC Assembly could come on board as an official worksite,” said Jana Bauer, Program Planning Officer for CareerSource Brevard who runs the J2J program.

Founded in 2014, the J2J program provides paid internship opportunities and career guidance to local high school students looking to jump start their careers. Kingston has participated in the program from the beginning as an HR expert panelist passing along tips and best practices in resume writing, interview techniques and overall business acumen. This year Kingston interviewed and selected the MC Assembly intern picks.

“Communication during the interview process is very important,” Kingston said. “Each intern we selected communicated very well. They did not have typical “work experience” but were able to articulate what they have done in high school and how it would apply to the internship.”

Meet the Interns Sydney Smith is a senior at Palm Bay Magnet High School interning in MC Assembly’s human resources department. Her eventual career goal, to be an occupational therapist.

“I signed up for the J2J program because I have no work experience and I saw this as a way to get introduced into the work force,” Smith said. “Since it’s only a six-week program, I figured it would give me a nice experience and wouldn’t interfere with school.”

“When I looked MC Assembly up online, I saw that the company did charity events and I really liked that,” Smith said. “The people are very friendly. Whenever I have any questions they help me. Since I sometimes have difficulty with commuting, they’re very flexible with my schedule. That’s very helpful all the way around.”

Since starting her internship, Smith has worked in many areas of human resources learning filing, handling phone calls, working on the reception desk, creating power point presentations and assisting with open enrollment.

“My favorite part is working the reception desk because you get to interact with a lot of people,” Smith said. “So far it’s been a fun internship, I really look forward to coming here.”

Smith said the experience has really developed her “people skills” which will benefit her in the future.

“I found that working here has helped me become more outgoing,” Smith said. “So far, this experience has taught me proper business phone etiquette, how to type and use excel, and I feel those are skills that you need almost any place that you go.”

Duwaun Daley is a recent graduate of Heritage High School, focused on a career in mechanical or architectural engineering.

“I’m a math type of guy,” Daley said. “I took a couple of engineering courses and I grew an interest. I like to create, build, disassemble and reassemble things.”

Daley applied to the J2J program specifically interested in manufacturing and picked MC Assembly for work experience.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to learn about the manufacturing and engineering field and give me insight into what I want to do as a career,” Daily said. “I hope to gain practical technical experience and learn more about technology they work with.”

Since starting, Daley has learned how to test circuit boards, do time studies and has shadowed several workers. He’s enjoying the opportunity to learn the industry up close.

“I’m meeting new people and learning a lot about testing, assembly, soldering, and the whole overall process, he said. “What’s really interesting is how big the company is and how many people work on individual things and all the machines here that do specific things.”

The internship also lets students sample corporate workplace life as well.

“I like the culture of this company,” Daley said. “The people have been very friendly and easy going. I like how they treat me with respect as a young individual trying to learn about the company and manufacturing industry. I could see myself working here one day; I like the culture and environment.”

The J2J Program Each year, the J2J program accepts around 20-30 applicants. Participating high schools include Bayside High, Palm Bay High and Heritage High. Organizers report the program is growing in popularity and application rates have increased each year.

“Students today face challenges on trying to even get their foot in the door,” Bauer said. “This program is important because it gives them leverage against other entry-level jobseekers by providing a five-week, paid, hands-on internship that can be listed on their resume as true work experience.”

Several local businesses have participated in the program in industries ranging from information technology, manufacturing, healthcare facility (assisted living), engineering firms to law firms.

“This is an amazing experience for students, and more important than they realize in the beginning,” Bauer said. ‘Our organization has a very fluid relationship with employers and communicates with them about the needs of their organizations on a daily basis. Many employers want to hire candidates that bring experience to the table.”

The overall goal of the program is to help high school students by offering them practical guidance in job hunting and interview skills and exposing them to real life working conditions. The students receive Foundations Training and a five-week paid internship opportunity.

“It is also important because it allows the student to “try out” a field of interest,” Bauer said. “Five weeks is a good amount of time to become exposed to an organization, learn the culture and dynamics, learn the work and determine if it’s worth pursuing further or not.”

Foundations Training The students receive Foundations Training consisting of four intensive days focused on teaching the students the essential skills they need to become employable and remain a valued employee. Components include; interviewing and resume preparation, job searching (tools and process), financial stability (budgeting, credit, saving, etc.), proper dress, business etiquette, customer service (in person, on the phone, through email), co-workers and managing those relationships, types of managers, working as part of a team, the importance of communication, and managing conflict.

The Foundations Training also provides an opportunity for students to do mock job interviews. Students practice interview several times for various positions so they gain a bunch of interviewing experience.

J2J program organizers believe there are several benefits to having expert panelists like Brian Kingston share their advice and insights with the students. The panelists reinforce what CSB taught the students about expectations of themselves and the workplace and emphasize the key points students should learn from real-life employers.

“The panelists sharing their history provides the opportunity for discussion around the idea that not everyone ends up going their intended path right out of high school,” Bauer said. “There’s always a large emphasis on college and having a plan, and while those components are important, they aren’t for everyone. The students are encouraged to keep an open mind because they are still young and a door may open for them that they never expected. Every experience that you encounter can fit into a bigger picture if you have the right attitude.”

The interns agreed, saying their advice to students interested in going through the J2J program is to listen and really pay attention.

“I found training week very informative when they explain dress codes, interview skills and resume writing,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of information presented all at once, but it’s all super helpful.”

“I appreciated the training, especially the part about creating a resume,” Daley said. “It’s defiantly will help during my career search.”

The Internship Organizers believe that through the internship, students gain an understanding of the work environment including the culture, the people, the clients/customers, the day-to-day operations, the flaws as well as best practices. By being closely connected with real business operations and being treated with the respect of a regular employee, interns get to experience real work conditions in an educational framework.

“There is nothing more eye-opening than real, hands-on experience,” Bauer said. “We wish we could give every student this opportunity before they invest their time and money into furthering their education or career pathway.”

The program’s organizers believe that through the internship, students get to practice and develop customer service skills, learn the importance of showing up every day, on time, being a team player, and how the decisions they make about their commitment to this program can directly affect their team and the company’s success. The students are provided with an in-depth “trial” to determine if the work they are doing, the department’s responsibilities they carry, the company they’re working for, if these are all situations and environments they would like to work for/within the future.

Finally, if students put in the effort, they can gain professional references to use in the future. They expand their personal network based on coworkers they’ve met and bosses they have reported to. Most importantly, they have gained an insight as to a career option and have plenty of knowledge to empower themselves to make a decision regarding their future.

“The Foundations Training provides students with a “foundation” of job hunting skills they need to be successful,” Bauer said. “During their internship, they really “get” it. They start to understand why it’s important to show up every day, on time, be a team player and have a great attitude.”

CSB and the City of Palm Bay agree on the importance of investing in today’s students as they are the local workforce of the future.

“We strive very hard to prepare and encourage our youth to give 150% in the workplace so they don’t succumb to the stereotypes of their generation,” Bauer said.

Manufacturing for the Future Manufacturing is often publicly perceived through a time warped lens as it appeared decades ago. Kingston says what he likes most about the internship aspect of the program is the opportunity to show student interns what modern electronic manufacturing is and how they could make it a career.

“At orientation, the students could not stop asking questions about MC Assembly,” Kingston said. “Once we hit the production floor their eyes opened wide and you could tell they were very impressed with the facility, process and products we make. Several times throughout the tour the students described how “neat” the entire manufacturing process is and how “cool” it is assembling the printed circuit boards. The students had no idea this type of work existed and were very intrigued and wanted to learn more.”

After spending time on the floor and seeing the process up close, the interns indeed report gaining a deeper appreciation for manufacturing as an industry.

“Manufacturing is actually much more involved than I thought,” Smith said. “I just thought you throw stuff together on an assembly line, but it turns out there’s a lot more to the process to it than that.”

“My perspective really changed a lot because I thought manufacturing was just a few steps, but now I see there’s a whole complex process and a lot more steps to that and you need to be very precise,” Daley said. “It takes a while to get the job done right.”

Kingston believes opportunities like this also help manufacturing companies build a talent pipeline for the manufacturing workers of tomorrow.

“The manufacturing workforce is aging and unless we begin to train our next generation of employees our industry as a whole is going to suffer,” he said.