Heading into last summer, high school sophomore Luis Menacho felt he was on the path to academic success, having boosted his grade-point average and gotten support in English and History at the College Track center in San Francisco. But one obstacle nagged at him.
“I was a little quiet and didn’t talk much,” says Luis. He would tend to clam up when meeting new people, and had a particular aversion to talking on the phone. As summer drew near, he discussed these challenges with College Track San Francisco’s Student Life Director, Miguel Abad. “Miguel suggested I look into a summer internship that would build my leadership skills,” Luis recalls. Miguel connected Luis with the Coro Exploring Leadership program, which placed him in a six-week internship at Springworks, an education technology company in downtown San Francisco.
“I was excited to do the internship because I’d found I needed to learn to network with people more,” says Luis. “I knew this would help me.”
Among the duties that nudged him out of his comfort zone, Luis was tasked with interviewing teachers around San Francisco – often on the dreaded phone – about the use of technology in their classrooms. As the summer went on, he became more and more at ease connecting with strangers.
“Interviewing people, especially on the phone, was always really difficult for me,” says Luis. “Before the internship, I was reserved and shy, but this made me much more comfortable.”
It helped, too, that the subject matter was relevant to Luis. “All the teachers I reached out to had different perspectives, and in talking to them I learned how technology and Blended Learning can really help students,” he reflects. “In my own school this year I’ve noticed they’re using a lot more technology in math and science, which is great.”
This year, as a junior, Luis is seeing the benefits of the experience. “After the internship, I went back to Coro and to school in the fall and, I don’t know, I just felt like I could talk to anyone without being shy,” Luis recalls. “And Miguel saw that I could talk to anyone [at the College Track site]. This year, I talk to my teachers a lot about my grades, and about how I can get more involved in things, like community service. The internship was a great experience, and my [Springworks] boss, Jorge, was really supportive in making it great.”
“When Luis joined College Track as a Freshman, he was a student who was sometimes unreliable and inconsistent in regards to fulfilling his responsibilities,” shared Miguel. “The Coro Exploring Leadership Program and the internship at Springworks gave Luis the tools to mature and learn what it means to be responsible in a professional setting. Over the last 6 months, I’ve been able to witness Luis become a more responsible, mature and professional young man. His growth is a testament to the importance of meaningful internship opportunities for young men such as Luis.”
Luis also sees the benefit further down the line. “Looking ahead, I know these kind of skills will absolutely be important in college and when I’m applying for jobs,” he says. “College Track has helped so much, it’s really opened my eyes to new things.” (He says it’s helped his brother, too, who’s in College Track as a freshman. “His grades are looking really good this year,” notes Luis.)
Already eager to start applying for college next fall, Luis has his eye on UC Santa Cruz and UC San Diego. But, he says, “I’m a momma’s boy. My mom, she doesn’t want to me go far away for college, but we’ll see. We talk about this being my future, and how it’s my responsibility to pick the right school that fits. I’m really looking forward to being the first in my family to go to college.”