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County seeks interns, business partners for summer internship program

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Doña Ana County had 546 – nearly half – of the 1,254 high school students placed in the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Summer Enrichment Internship Program in 2021; and, with support from local businesses, the county hopes to employ 800 this year, County Manager Fernando Macias told the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce at its April 22 lunch meeting.

“I’m appealing to you as businesspeople who want to have an impact,” Macias said.

Macias said the goal for the 2022 program is “to make Doña Ana County the most successful placement of students … anywhere in New Mexico.”

Students will be recruited for the program from Las Cruces Public Schools, Gadsden Independent School District, Hatch Valley Public Schools, area charter schools, private high schools and homeschooled students in the area, Macias said.

Because the county’s budget for the program increased from $1.3 million in 2021 to $2.7 million in 2022, Macias said Interns will be paid $13 an hour, up from $10.50 last year. For 2022, students can work up to 200 hours, as opposed to 120 hours last summer.

Students can earn up to $2,600 working 20 hours a week in the program.

Last year’s participants received work assignments with 183 government agencies and business partners in the county, the county said in a news release said.

Eligible applicants include 15-year-old students with a work permit that can be provided, juniors, seniors and previous interns in their first year of college.

“After the demand we experienced last year and the quality of work our students provided, we are excited that the PED would grant us the opportunity to make this program bigger and better for our area students, our partners and community,” Macias said in the news release. “When we help a young person direct their energy toward positive outcomes and provide an outlet for gaining experience and making money, our whole community wins.”

The county plans to hire 40 coordinators, each paid $25 an hour, to oversee the students.

Other enhancements include electronic timecards and the use of an external vendor to handle all timecards and payroll processing to maximize program staff effectiveness.  Also different from the previous year, 15-year-olds with a work permit will be eligible to participate in the program.

The success of the summer internship program is due to having willing and engaged community members that offer work assignments to students, coordinators who will oversee the interns’ summer work experience and motivated students who are committed to work during the summer months, the county said.

Students should expect to transition into their workforce placements when the school year ends in May, the county said.

Government agencies, private businesses and nonprofits interested in partnering with the county to offer summer employment can visit www.donaanacounty.org/summerintern for more information and to apply.