For the Journal
Odyssey STEM Academy students are learning from successful professionals at hospitals, in city government buildings and at schools through an eight-week Living to Learn internship program that immerses them in real-world careers.
Students are spending two days per week in their fields of study from Jan. 14 to March 8 as they learn from mentors.
“It’s been a great opportunity for me to make connections and learn about different professions,” said Odyssey freshman Honey Robison, who is interning for the City of Lakewood. “I enjoy being able to go off campus and expand my horizon.”
Each of Odyssey’s 138 students are participating in the program, which includes more than 50 businesses in various fields. Students were required to seek out their own mentors and apply for internships through job fairs and personal visits. The application process required each student to create an interest and career chart, an elevator speech and a resumé before interviewing with an industry professional for each position.
The program will conclude with students creating projects that showcase their experiences and lessons learned.
“More than guide students into a particular field, we want to give them the opportunity to learn about different industries through hands-on experience,” Odyssey co-founder Keith Nuthall said. “The program is helping them develop into more well-rounded people who have a grasp of the world around them.”
Students coordinate their weekly internship schedules with their mentors and often debrief with classmates about their experiences.
Gissela Huerta, who is interning for the Paramount Chamber of Commerce, said she enjoys much of the office work as well as the opportunity to learn about the city where she lives.
Daniel Schott, who wants to work in Information Technology, is spending time at the District office with the technology experts while Damaris Hernandez and Amanda Ruiz are learning about patient charts at area hospitals.
“Our students are building knowledge and experience that will serve them long after they have left the classroom,” PUSD Superintendent Ruth Pérez said. “These mentorships will truly help them thrive in college and careers.”
Students will continue with new internships throughout their four years to learn new skills and career possibilities before they graduate.
“The mentorship our students are receiving has allowed us to continue building strong relationships with the community,” Board of Education President Carmen Gomez said. “It’s great to have the professional leaders of today training the future ones of tomorrow.”