Early Professional Opportunities

at PLN’s Charter Middle School


By Para Los Niños Team

March 29, 2024

As a part of our holistic approach to education, Para Los Niños instructors and administrators are always seeking ways to support students in their professional pursuits. Rayven Sherley, the Operations Lead for PLN’s Charter Middle School, and Secondary Education Director Lara Goldstone have introduced a new opportunity for students 14 and older: a paid internship. Ten applicants were selected to work up to 100 hours through the end of May, earning $16.90 per hour on a variety of administrative tasks, like scorekeeping at sports games. 

“We definitely wanted to provide them with an opportunity to make money that will impact their lives and their families’ lives, but also give them the opportunity to have professional experience to have that support and guidance,” Sherley said. 

Many PLN students experience poverty or homelessness, so any income they can bring to families is invaluable. But this is also the first work experience for many of the students involved, so Sherley has included lessons in the internship program that better equip participants for the working world, from financial responsibility to professional etiquette. 

“It’s a learning experience, that’s what we’re treating it as… We worked with [Youth Workforce Services] to inform our students about things like taxes and what responsibilities they would have on their end outside of work.”

Six supervisors, including Sherley, work directly with students during their shifts, which cannot exceed three hours on a school day, and eight hours on a non-school day. They also provide résumé workshops, academic support, and coordinate CPR/AED training for each of the participants. 

Thus far, students have had overwhelmingly positive feedback about the program, some even asking to work extra hours just to be more involved. Sherley hopes the enthusiasm for this initiative will continue and that she can onboard a larger class of interns next year. 

“It’s been amazing to see these students step into a space that a lot of them haven’t been involved in directly and have those questions and be professional and advocate for themselves.”

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