In offices across Johns Hopkins campuses Monday, 400 Baltimore City students met the professionals who will guide and mentor them during their eight-week, paid summer internships offered through the Summer Jobs Program, a Hopkins tradition now in its 23rd year.
For the students who attended a reception on the East Baltimore campus, the program began with an opportunity to meet and network with the leaders of the company who helped make their internships possible.
Westnet, a medical and laboratory equipment supplier, sponsored the placement of eight students in STEM internships across Johns Hopkins through an $18,000 donation to the Summer Jobs Program. The company, based in Massachusetts, moved its operations to Baltimore four years ago to strengthen its relationship with Johns Hopkins by participating in the HopkinsLocal initiative, which aims to provide economic support to Baltimore by partnering with city-based businesses to build, hire, and purchase locally.
"I applaud Johns Hopkins for having a program that provides opportunities for 400 diamonds in the rough," said Gordon Thompson, president and CEO of Westnet. "It was opportunity that created the relationship between Westnet and Johns Hopkins. ... That's all we can ever ask for in life—an opportunity."
Added Daniel Ennis, senior vice president for finance and administration at Johns Hopkins University: "This is another moment in the blossoming relationship between Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, and Westnet. ... And there's a lot more, hopefully, to come."
Among the students supported by the Westnet donation was Trisha Feldman, a rising senior at Baltimore City College and second-year intern with the Summer Jobs Program working in the Office of the Vice President for Planning and Budget.
"With the internship, you have to interact with different people and talk to different people, so that helped me break out of my shell," she said.
For Lariel Yarral, a rising senior at Loch Raven High School, the chance to work with the Center for Inherited Disease Research will provide not only training in C++ coding language, but also experience working in a hospital setting—a priceless opportunity for her considering she wants to become a clinical psychologist one day.
"Being an intern gave me exposure to the hospital lifestyle, like using your badge to swipe in, and seeing all the people constantly moving around the halls at Johns Hopkins," she said. "We moved locations, so there are a lot of new people and connections I can make through the program."
The connections students make and the guidance they receive from their mentors is a central tenet of the program, a fact Ennis highlighted during his remarks.
"The mentors are a critical part of this experience and this great enterprise, so thank you," he said. "I know you have day jobs, and a lot of expectations and responsibilities you need to fulfill, and this isn't part of the job description. But it's very much a part of who we are at Hopkins."
The Summer Jobs Program employs city students and residents in paid positions for 30 hours a week. This year, the program enrolled the highest number of interns to date, pairing them with mentors who provide oversight and training in specific projects and duties. In addition to their intern duties, the students will also take part in professional development seminars each Friday.
"I love this program, and the opportunities and the exposure that the interns get," said Yariela Kerr-Donovan, director of strategic workforce planning and development who oversees the Summer Jobs Program along with Lorraine Wilson, the youth programs coordinator. "The beauty of this is that HopkinsLocal, through procurement efforts, brought Westnet to Baltimore, and when they came to do business, they also gave this gift. ... If there's a way for these relationships to continue to grow, it's just a win-win all around."