Students hired to participate in the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce Summer Internship Program shouldn’t expect to do much shredding or to be going on many coffee runs.
They should expect to be tasked with big-time responsibilities.
“I felt like I was the kid and was instructing adults on what to do, which is kind of strange,” said Nicole Johnson, a rising senior at La Cañada High School who participated in the program last summer as an intern for the Allen Lund Co., where she created three computerized training courses for 400 employees to use nationwide.
“But I got used to them treating me like an adult, which was really cool. The program was just very empowering,” she added.
Her dad, Karl Johnson, recognized as much. He saw Nicole, emboldened by the experience, launch last year’s “Ignite” speaker program at LCHS and start work on a book.
“I always thought intern programs were just shredding and filing, but this program was quite different,” Karl Johnson said. “When I realized it was a serious project, it got me thinking maybe I should consider whether I should do it.”
So he did. Stephanie Lee, who is among seven LCHS students selected to participate this summer with six local businesses and organizations, will finish her six-week paid internship next week.
Lee’s tenure with Johnson’s LCF-based company, Global Wealth Capital Management, will conclude with a financial education presentation on the evening of Tuesday, July 10.
With Johnson there to offer professional assistance, she will lead an hour-long discussion that will communicate many of his ideas for a program that encourages financial education.
“I’ve noticed that there doesn’t seem to be any financial education,” said Johnson, a financial adviser. “So she’s helping me create a program … that’s based on concepts that would help people actually learn finance and not just sell it. In doing that, she’s creating the initial introductory seminar to it, which is going to introduce this project and how and why it works.”
While working about 20 hours a week, Monday through Thursday, Lee will have taken Johnson’s information and created, marketed and presented the seminar.
“I want her to present it because this will be done at financial advisers’ offices, and I’m not going go to these offices to do this, so we need to have a program that anybody can present,” said Johnson, who envisions his program being used on a national scale.
Lee — a member of the LCHS debate team who harbors aspirations of entering the fields of business or finance — said this week that she’s pleased to know so much more about a topic she’s interested in pursuing, even if she’s a bit nervous about the presentation.
“I’ve learned a lot about investing and finance, which is usually something you learn about when you get a lot older,” Lee said. “I’ve also learned a lot about how to reach out to people, which is something I’m not used to doing.”
The other interns in the Chamber’s program having similar experiences for other businesses and organizations include Rucha Kadam and James Yim at the Allen Lund Co.; Adin Ryssdal with the city’s finance department; Emma Garland at the Community Center of LCF; Aaron Kornfeld at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and Christian Chung with YMCA of the Foothills.
Each of the interns earns a $1,200 scholarship after completing his or her assignment and also is asked to discuss the experience at a public showcase, which this year will be held Nov. 14 at the La Cañada Unified School District’s Board of Education building. Internship organizers encourage those interested to attend.
Lee will have a happy story to tell, she said.
“I love that I’ve learned so much,” she said. “Six weeks isn’t very long, it’s not like a year or anything, but I feel like I’ve learned more these past few weeks about something that I’m really passionate about than I have in my entire life and it’s really inspired me to look into the business and finance field and research more.”
For more information on the internship program, visit lacanadaflintridge.com. To reserve a spot at Lee’s seminar, call (818) 790-9600.
Elise Wu contributed to this report.