Jekyll Island Authority partnered this summer with the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Georgia to offer internship opportunities to several local high school students.
“It’s really giving an opportunity to some teens that maybe aren’t certain where they want to go or what direction they want to go in,” said Jenna Johnson, human resources director of the Jekyll Island Authority, during the August JIA board meeting. “Do they even want to go to college? What do they want to do? And this pilot program allows them to come over and shadow and get a little bit of experience in some positions that are of interest to them.”
Students spent six weeks in marketing and landscaping internships working directly with JIA staff.
“We thought it was a great opportunity for us to kind of sow into some potential future employees, and it’s a great opportunity for them,” Johnson said.
The students gained insight into the day-to-day experience of working in one of these jobs, said Alexa Hawkins, director of marketing and communications for JIA.
“It was about six weeks of exposure essentially to career environments, working alongside our teams,” Hawkins said. “It was certainly an opportunity for our team to kind of learn and see what these kids coming out of high school are interested in.”
The student who interned with the landscaping department assisted with landscape restoration projects including the installation of several commemorative benches around the island.
The students who interned with the marketing staff assisted with social media development, worked with the Jekyll Island Convention Center sales team and assisted with photo shoots on the island.
“When they first came on board, we sat down and talked with them about some of their interests and we used that to guide the direction of the next several weeks,” Hawkins said. “They had a lot of interest in social media. They had interest in graphic design.”
The marketing team worked with the students on a capstone project as well.
“We asked them to work towards developing something that they could walk away with,” Hawkins said. “One of our interns, she worked on her version of a Shrimp and Grits (Festival) poster, and then our other intern worked on developing a social media content calendar.”
The students gained real marketing experience, she said.
“Certainly some days it’s just meetings, but other days they get to go outside and take pictures,” she said. “We were very excited to have them join us.”
This summer’s internship program was a pilot, and conversations are taking place now about future opportunities to enhance the program.
The Boys & Girls Club provided transportation, bringing the students over to the island every day.
“We’re very excited to see what the future of this program can hold,” Hawkins said.