February 8, 2019 7:00 AM ET
For many college students, a crucial step on the path to a good job — or career — is the internship. It’s a chance to gain vital experience and prove yourself to employers.
But to get that internship, you need a network, and a good resume. Both are things many students struggle with, especially those at community colleges.
Students like Kelcei Williams. She attends Northern Virginia Community College in Woodbridge, Va. When she got to campus, her only experience was at Dunkin’ Donuts and Lowe’s Home Improvement.
And that, says Gerald Chertavian is “not a resume that’s gonna get picked out of the pile by Google or JP Morgan.”
Chertavian is the founder and CEO of a program called Year Up. The organization helps low-income young adults, like Williams, get from that thin resume to a good job.
“We have millions of young people who are struggling to connect to the economy, that are struggling to find opportunity,” he says.
Nearly three decades ago, Chertavian says, he wrote his graduate school admissions essay about an idea to bring more job opportunities to underserved youth. But it wasn’t until years later, after building and then selling a successful technology company, that he turned that idea into reality.
Today, about 4,500 students are part of the Year Up program across the country.
Here’s how it works: Year Up partners with community colleges for a 12-month program. Students spend the first six months taking classes. Some of those courses are in “skill-development” — subject based on the area’s demand.
For example, cybersecurity or data analytics. Other classes teach professional skills like email etiquette, resume building and dressing for success.