Sabrina SherifLast year, CONNECT2Careers (C2C) partnered with the County of San Diego’s Community Action Partnership to pilot the School Break Externship program. This program provides high school students with two work opportunities — one during their winter break and another during spring break.

Sabrina Sharif, who was a Senior at James Madison High School at the time, applied for the externship program after hearing about it via email from C2C. Shortly after she applied, Sabrina was invited to attend a training and hiring event, where prospective externs practiced their elevator pitches, prepared for interviews and learned about San Diego’s five Priority Sectors. At the end of the day, the prospective interns had a chance to meet with each of the employer hosts for the program.

When meeting employers, Sabrina says she was a little nervous at first. “I wasn’t sure I would get the employers I wanted, but in the end I got my two favorite ones!” she says.

During her winter break Sabrina worked at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Career Center Satellite in the San Diego Central Library. During her spring break Sabrina spent time at the office of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “At the library career center, I learned about balancing professional and friendly relationships, and I got to feel like I was part of a team,” says Sabrina. “When I worked at the Mayor’s office, I got to meet lots of different people — everyone from lawyers to models — and I got to practice my customer service skills while answering calls from constituents. That was really cool!”

Sabrina’s only work experience prior to engaging in the School Break Externship program was an internship in her high school’s office. “The internship at my school was more about processing paperwork, and I always saw the same people every day,” Sabrina told us. “With my externships at the library and at the mayor’s office, I got to meet new people every day, build my professional relationships, and learn new skills that prepared me for the rest of my career.”

Now Sabrina is a student at California State University, San Marcos and a cashier at her local Target. Sabrina credits much of her preparation for her job at Target to her experience with C2C: “Because of my time with the mayor’s office and the career center, I didn’t need as much training as the other employees. I already knew the basics of customer service.” Having a job at Target has allowed Sabrina to support the same people who helped her get her feet off the ground. “I used to have to rely on other people more, but now it’s me giving back to other people.” Sabrina shares. “I get to be more independent.”

Sabrina is one of more than 50 youth who experienced these foundational work experiences, learning real skills and preparing for a career as part of the School Break Externship pilot. With continued support from the County, the program is continuing this year — and we’re currently recruiting for both youth participants and employers! If you’re a young person interested in an experience like Sabrina’s, use this form to request more information. Employers interested in hosting one or more externs can request more information here.