Santa Clarita named ‘Employer of the Year’ for internship programs

City of Santa Clarita City Hall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The city of Santa Clarita recently earned the title as a 2019 Employer of the Year for its college internship programs.

At an annual conference March 29 in Napa, the city received the award from the California Internship and Work Experience Association, which is the state’s leading professional organization for educators and employers who support internship and work experience programs in higher education.

“City staff promote the idea of giving back by providing experiences that benefit the student, the college, the economy and the city as a whole,” said Gina Bogna, dean of Career Services and Special Programs at College of the Canyons, in her nomination of Santa Clarita for the award.

Through its varied internship opportunities, the city has opened its departments to serve as a hands-on learning environment for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as offer college credit-based Career Technical Education programs for those enrolled in a postsecondary institution or vocational/technical school.

Interns have had the chance to jump on board with various work assignments in nearly every city division such as the City Manager’s Office, Finance, Communications, Economic Development, Building and Safety, and Arts and Events.

Among those interns is Jennifer Turcios, who recently became Santa Clarita’s first female building inspector. As a building inspection student at COC, Turcios was among a group of students selected two years ago to shadow inspectors and receive hands-on experience with plan checks and building codes.

“I always have a need to grow and to learn more,” said Turcios, who has a background in city planning. “I liked to see developments from inception to the end result. I said to myself, ‘That would be fantastic, but I would have to return to school.’”

Despite a hectic schedule as a mother of three, Turcios committed to returning to school, but this time she planned to enhance her learning through the internship program.

“These internships are well thought out and include the most important element: mentoring,” said Bogna. “Mentoring is the crux of an internship that sets itself apart from internships where the student does menial tasks such as fetching coffee or paper shredding.”

The opportunity helped Turcios polish her skills, she said, and ultimately land her a job with the city in November. Her goal is to retire as a senior building inspector one day for Santa Clarita.

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