This year, 26 Independence High School students will get a head start in the working world. 
They have been chosen to participate in the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program, an initiative by the Charlotte mayor’s office to provide local high school students with job training and  a paid summer internship at a local business. The program involves more than 60 area businesses, including the Office of the Governor, Microsoft, Duke Energy, and Bank of America, and will also count toward class credit for Independence students.
Originally, about 60 students recieved the initial recommendation for the program, and about 50 were interested and able to participate, 30 turned in applications, and of those came the 26 that were accepted into the program.
To be selected for the program, students first had to be recommended by a member of the faculty and fill out an application form. After an initial interview, the students participated in a two-day training in employability skills, including how to be successful at a job and job searching skills.
From January to May, before starting the internship, students will schedule times to visit local businesses to see how area companies operate. Over the summer, interns will work approximately 20 hours per week over an eight week period. 
Natalie Vuoriaho-Davis is the career development coordinator at Independence, helping students choose the right college or trade school, internships, and providing career guidance in general.
“Anything that has to do with planning for the future of our students, I’m involved in,” said Vuoriaho-Davis.
This is the first year that Vuoriaho-Davis and the Career Development Center at Independence has been involved with the Mayor’s Employment Program, and Vuorahio-Davis is excited about the turnout and interest.
One of the main advantages of the Mayor’s program, according to Vuoriaho-Davis, is that it will give students the chance to experience a career that interests them and decide if they like it or not, allowing the students to make better decisions when it comes time to choose a college to attend or what major to pursue. 
“The biggest part that they’re going to be getting is experience and the skills that they’re going to develop while they’re doing the internship,” said Vuoriaho-Davis. “They’re also going to be learning how to network with professionals in the field that they’re considering entering.”
Before starting work, students still have to pass a drug test and background check, attend MYEP events, and complete six hours of soft skills training in customer service, financial literacy, and job readiness courses. 
If local businesses would like to get involved and hire an intern for this summer, contact Vuoriaho-Davis ateeva.vuoriaho@cms.k12.nc.us.