AmeriCorps VISTA Alexa Schwalbach talks about the excellent programs Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED) offers to ensure high school students are successful in finding postgraduate opportunities.
I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and was thrilled to discover that I could serve the communities of my hometown through Arizona Serve. I am serving as a VISTA at the Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED), a wonderful resource that provides tuition-free programs and certifications to students throughout Pima County. JTED offers programs from welding to cosmetology and believes there are multiple pathways to success, not just the traditional college route. During my first few months of service, I have discovered how many dedicated teachers, administrators, and support staff are needed to deliver relevant and engaging career and technical education courses.
My main focus is expanding the district’s internship program which is still in its beginning stages. Pima County JTED, along with other school districts and the mayor’s office, have repeatedly spoken about the need for internships that give students networking opportunities and a chance to learn new, transferable skills. To help streamline JTED’s internship program, we are currently working on an internship section for the website that will contain an application, teacher recommendation form, and a place for businesses to request interns.
In addition, perhaps the largest task I hope to accomplish as a VISTA is planning JTED’s first annual job and internship fair! We plan to host the event in the spring of 2016, so students can find a job or internship that will give them valuable work experience during the hot Tucson summer. I hope to develop an internship program that gives JTED students the resources they need to interview confidently with a fine-tuned resume in hand and the employability skills they need to succeed far beyond the classroom.