Westmont Magazine A Profitable Experience
By Garrett Fujiwara ’06
This summer, I knew I wanted a summer job that would be meaningful not only for my own personal work experience, but for the community as well. Being a part of the Community Service Intern Corps perfectly fulfilled these goals. Through my work with CSIC, which is sponsored by the Independent Colleges of Southern California, I have encountered a range of new experiences. In addition, I made contact with top executives from various companies and organizations.
CSIC was a 10-week paid internship. Students spent 300 hours with a non-profit organization, working Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, we met with other interns at various locations in the Los Angeles area and listened to guest speakers — some corporate, some non-profit — talk about their personal stories, their positions and their organizations. We were able to ask questions and hear how other internships were going.
The interns focused on ways non-profit organizations can function and be effective during economic downturns. It seems that diversifying the sources of funding, as opposed to relying on only one or two, is the most effective way to stay solvent and liquid.
I served my internship with Junior Achievement of Orange County and the Inland Empire. I wanted to do two things: work in an office setting and find out more about the non-profit sector. Working for a non-profit organization has some negative stereotypes: they pay less, are less efficiently managed and are financially irresponsible. I would like to make a career in the non-profit community, but not if it means working in an unproductive and inefficient environment.
Working for a non-profit is no easy task, as I discovered. These organizations must rely on government funding and the generosity of corporations and individuals to continue their work. But those with solid visions and missions for what they want to accomplish can be worthwhile.
Junior Achievement definitely falls into this category. Since 1919, it has inspired kids to achieve by providing information about business, economics and free enterprise. The programs, taught exclusively by volunteers, run from kindergarten through 12th grade. Each lesson builds on the previous grade level.
This past school year alone, more than 22,000 Orange County and Inland Empire students participated in Junior Achievement programs. Worldwide, JA reached about 4.6 million students.
I was fortunate to teach a class myself for three days. In that short time, I felt connected with the kids; I hope I communicated valuable information about business and the economy. Too often students get through high school without gaining basic knowledge about business.
Junior Achievement is essential to education because it provides the financial literacy and fundamental understanding that everyone must have to succeed in today’s world. Since the students participating in the programs will work someday, many companies send their employees to be volunteers, knowing they are investing in their own futures.
During my internship, I was privileged to see the hard work and dedication of all those involved with JA. Not only do they have a good mission and a strong sense of purpose in the community, but they have the heart to see it through.
Editor’s Note: Garrett was the only Westmont student accepted into the competitive and prestigious Community Service Intern Corps program and one of only 24 interns chosen from the 17 colleges and universities that belong to the Independent Colleges of Southern California. For more information about this new program, see the site, http://www.interncorps.org/index.html.