Posted on August 7, 2019
This story originally published August 7, 2019 in the Immokalee Bulletin
IMMOKALEE – Taste of Immokalee, a youth entrepreneurship program and business created and operated by high school students, is proud to announce its partnership with Florida Ready to Work. Florida Ready to Work is an innovative education and economic development program sponsored and funded by the State of Florida that certifies that a Florida student/jobseeker has the fundamental job skills necessary to succeed in today’s rapidly changing and competitive economy.
With this partnership, Taste of Immokalee’s young entrepreneurs gain the opportunity to earn government-recognized credentials that measure both soft skills and aptitude in crucial workforce skills including math, communication and problem solving. Private and public employers statewide recognize the program to identify qualified new hires.
“We are honored to receive approval to administer the Florida Ready to Work credentials in Collier County,” said Taste of Immokalee’s Executive Director, Marie Capita. “While we continually witness the impact that our program has in preparing our students to enter the workforce, we are thrilled to earn the confidence of the State, and gain the ability to implement this valuable tool that will help our students earn statewide-recognized credentials and provide our program with more formalized measures of success.”
What sets the Taste of Immokalee program apart from other career-readiness programs is its focus on not only classroom learning, but also the ability to put that knowledge to work in a real-world business environment. Students begin in the apprenticeship program where they learn about entrepreneurship, professional career options, and the fundamentals behind the business of Taste of Immokalee. Top performers then earn a chance to grow into paid internship positions where they are actively involved in all areas of the business, including accounting, customer service, operations, HR, sales and marketing.
Throughout their internship, students have direct access to business professionals who provide guidance and help the young entrepreneurs build skills and learn to make sound business decisions. This collaboration equips students with valuable experiences that cannot be attained through a textbook, such as those shared by sales intern Christina Manasse, a rising senior at Immokalee High School. “Taste of Immokalee made me realize that deadlines count, and missing deadlines can stop the team from moving forward.”
Taste of Immokalee provides high school students with a rare opportunity to be involved in every aspect of a new product launch and to experience the rewards of that hard work, such as seeing their products on the shelves of over 240 Publix stores in Florida. Students also gain the ability to explore various career options and discover where their passion and talents can be utilized within a business.
“Taste of Immokalee helped me find a career path,” said Marthe Auguste, a rising senior at Immokalee High School who serves as the team leader for the human resources department. “After working in many different departments, I realized that HR is what I want to do.” Marthe’s colleague, Arturo Artiles, a rising senior at Donahue Academy, recaps his first experience as a summer intern in the accounting department, echoing the sentiment of everyone involved with the program: “There is no other place that does what Taste of Immokalee does.”
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