Step-Up internship program helps thousands of metro teens

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- A program is changing lives and communities in the metro by helping teenagers find a summer job.

At 16-years-old, Dorothy Nolan is spending her summer working at American National Bank. She's an intern in the community relations department, with her own desk and even her own name plate.

“This is probably the best first job I could have,” said Nolan. “I feel I’ve grown with this being my first job. It’s a brand new experience and I’ve learned a lot about community relations and banking.

Dorothy is part of the African American Empowerment Network's Step-Up Omaha program, where teens and young adults are partnered with employers.

“I feel more kids should see the professional world early because they'll gain valuable experience and skills through working in a professional setting that could possibly help with a future career,” Nolan told WOWT 6 News.

The program was created, in part, to fight the gun violence that too often dominates our local headlines. In many of these shootings, teenagers have pulled the trigger.

Jami Anders-Kemp with the Empowerment Network believes her group's efforts to connect kids with jobs can change lives.

“There is a lot of good going on. But we understand in those communities where they might not see that every day, that we just need to be present. We need to be there and show them that there is a different way,” Anders-Kemp said.

“I like being able to wake up and have a job to go to. It’s just really great,” said Nolan.

Dorothy Nolan is confident her summer job will lead to future success.

“It makes me feel really responsible and like I’m getting to know myself better and just what I’m capable of,” she said.

So far the Empowerment Network has helped more than 3,000 young people find summer jobs and internships in the metro. Some of the jobs are paid, others are unpaid but the participants can receive financial sponsorship through the program.

To contribute or to participate, find more information on Empowerment Network’s website.