Summer of Success: 2018 Youth Career Connections Summer Internship Program

Career Pathways For Orange County High School Students

A group of Orange County high schoolers turned summer into the season of success. Through a one-of-a-kind program, these students got an insider’s view of some of Orange County’s leading employers and career pathways.

Orange County United Way’s 2018 Youth Career Connections Summer Internship Program linked more than 150 high school seniors to employers in a variety of industries, including health sciences, engineering, service industries, city government, and nonprofits, providing a first-hand look at exciting career paths right here in Orange County.

During the program, the interns were exposed to real-world job experiences where they had the opportunity to learn about different career avenues and work environments, understand the relevancy of classroom curriculum in a real-world setting, and build their own network of local professionals.

For the wide spectrum of top OC companies that participated, they were given a unique opportunity to unlock innovative ideas with tech-savvy students, build a talent pipeline, and increase employee engagement and leadership.

It’s a win-win for both the students and the employers.

Sergio Contreras, Senior Director of Education & Healthy Schools for Orange County United Way, addresses the crowd during the 2018 Youth Career Connections Culmination Celebration.

We know that our youth are our future and our most valuable asset as a nation,” said Sergio Contreras, Senior Director of Education & Healthy Schools for Orange County United Way. “The students participating in Youth Career Connections are the future leaders, engineers, scientists, healthcare workers, architects and graphic designers that will propel the economic growth of our County.”


On July 27th a special 2018 Youth Career Connections Culmination Celebration at the Donald R. Wash Memorial Auditorium in Garden Grove recognized the success of this year’s interns from Garden Grove United School District. In addition to the invaluable experiences the interns gained working at top local companies over the summer, each student also earned a Career Technical Education pathway certificate of completion and scholarships.


Many volunteer organizations that have supported the Youth Career Connections Program through speaker events, workshops, facility tours and networking opportunities were also recognized at the event. These partner agencies include Alcon, PBS SoCal, Disneyland Resort, Eaton, and St. Joseph’s Health.

During the celebration event, student and employer speakers shared personal anecdotes about their internship experience.


Alan L., Garden Grove High School student, shares his experience interning at SM&A during the Culmination Celebration.

“Thanks to the United Way internship program, I was able to meet an amazing company, SM&A. The time spent at the internship has positively affected me by experiencing hands-on tasks and projects, adapting to a professional environment, and speaking with professionals, many of whom shared their stories on how they got to where they are,” said Alan L., Garden Grove High School senior and SM&A summer intern.


During the Culmination Celebration, Vince Longhi of L3 Interstate Electronics speaks to the crowd about his experience with the Youth Career Connections Summer Internship Program.

L3 Interstate Electronics was wonderfully surprised as to how prepared the Youth Career Connections summer interns were. They were eager and ready to learn,” said Vince Longhi of L3 Interstate Electronics. “By providing students with these kinds of opportunities, it allows Orange County to continue to have an edge and competitive advantage over other communities.”


Dr. Jeff Hittenberger, OC Department of Education Chief Academic Officer, Steve Jones, Mayor of Garden Grove, Silvia G., YCC 2018 Summer Intern, and Susan B. Parks, Orange County United Way President and CEO, pose for a photo during the Culmination Celebration.

Silvia G. from Santiago High School, intern at Community Health Initiative of Orange County, said, “My experience being part of this internship was beyond gratifying. By being a part of an amazing company, I was able to improve many skills. I was able to build new strengths and skills such as my writing, communication and organization skills. I also gained confidence within myself which impacted me in an outstanding way.”

“Staff fell in love with our Youth Career Connections intern, Silvia,” said Marisela Carlos of Community Health Initiative of Orange County. “Her personality and professionalism shined through. We are excited to be here to cheer her on.”


Joy C. from Pacifica High School and intern at Ware Malcomb, poses for a photo during the Culmination Celebration.

Another student, Joy C. from Pacifica High School who interned at Ware Malcomb, describes her summer internship as life-changing. “With this internship, I’ve decided what I want to do in college and future career,” she said. “Now I have actual experience and connections.” Joy shared more about her time with Ware Malcomb in this video:

We are tremendously proud of the 2018 Youth Career Connections Summer Program Interns and applaud the local companies that partnered with us to provide them with an unforgettable learning experience.

We know the power of these hands-on learning experiences for Orange County students. By investing in local youth today, we are ensuring future success for all.


Check out the full list of our 2018 Youth Career Connections Summer Interns and host sites and see more photos from the Culmination Celebration.

Orange County United Way is Solving Problems in the Community

United Way fights for the education, health, housing and financial stability of every person in Orange County. If you are looking for ways to help the community, learn how to get involved or sign up for our monthly newsletter. Join the Fight!


Orange County United Way’s Youth Career Connections Summer Internship Program offers students real work experience through a one-of-a-kind high school internship opportunity that allows them to explore many exciting career pathways. Together with local business leaders, we can help the next generation of youth graduate both college and career ready. Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of local young adults?

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