Young Adult Internship Program at LaGuardia Community College Completes First Year with Promising Results

Long Island City, NY—August 1, 2012–One year after launching a city-funded internship program for young adults who are not working or attending school, LaGuardia Community College has graduated 100 students from its Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP), most of whom are now continuing their education, permanently employed or enrolled in a vocational training program.

Among the graduates, 91% have set firm goals and taken solid action to move forward in achieving these endeavors. Forty graduates have enrolled in college or a GED or college prep program (or will this fall), with ten having successfully completed their first semester of college, eight at LaGuardia. Forty-six percent have been retained at their internship sites in full or part time employment at places including A New Dawn Elementary and Pre-School, Alpha Fundamental Pre-School, BRAGARD Uniforms USA, City Ice Pavilion, Complete Home Care Services, Inc., Dry Harbor Nursing Home and Marshall’s Department Stores. And five have enrolled in an advanced training program. YAIP staff is actively working with the remainder of the students to help them plan their next step. 

“What we find is that once students arrive here, they make a quick assessment of their surroundings and feel they want to belong,” said M’Shell Patterson, YAIP director at LaGuardia. “They want to go not just to college, but to LaGuardia.”

The free 14-week internship program, which is a joint effort between the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and Mayor Bloomberg’s Center for Economic Development and Young Men’s Initiative, is for job-ready young adults between the ages of 16 to 24.  Students receive three weeks of orientation prior to the internship; 11 weeks of paid internship (20 work hours and five workshop hours per week at $7.25 an hour); job counseling; and work-readiness training that leads to the National Work Readiness Credential. Upon completion of the program, they can apply to college; enter into an occupational skills training program; earn a GED diploma; or connect with other job and educational opportunities.

While YAIP is present in all the five boroughs, the program at LaGuardia is unique in that it has a college as its backdrop. Students have access to all the support services of the college and are exposed to an environment where pursuing higher education is the ultimate goal.

YAIP participants are integrated into college life from the first day of the program, touring the campus and meeting faculty and staff.  They receive discounted passes to the college’s gym and pool. And this year they participated in many on-campus activities, including those marking LaGuardia’s 40th anniversary. 

“They stood together with the campus community to protest the murder of Trayvon Martin and participated in the VIP pilot program at the college’s Women’s Center to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence,” said Ms. Patterson of the group of students that recently graduated. “They also attended and supported LaGuardia’s Family Day in an effort to reach out to potential applicants and let families know of alternate paths to college.”

Hanes Holt, a YAIP participant, said, “YAIP has taught me how to set short term goals and work towards long term goals.  Being in YAIP has really changed my life in a positive way. I am working to earn my GED and move on to the next step in my life, whether that means more education or a finding permanent job.”

“My YAIP internship was my first work experience, and I learned how to respect my supervisors and co-workers and how to respect my job,” said Damani Makonnen, who is working part time this summer and will begin CUNY Start, an intensive college prep program, in the fall. “YAIP has also helped me to see the importance of getting an education in order for me to find a better job.”   

“Being in YAIP helped me change my approach to life and reinvent my style,” said Amorita D. Solone, who just completed her first semester at LaGuardia with a 3.0 grade point average. Currently working part time at the Central Park Conservancy, she added, “It is a great opportunity for young adults who are less fortunate. YAIP gave me the chance to be self-sufficient and successful in the future.”

Noting the promising outcomes that the program has yielded so far, Ms. Patterson said, “YAIP participants have made the changes necessary to ensure that they are included in the employment pool.  They understand what they need to do to remain competitive in this job market, and they are ready to take the next steps.”

“The Young Adult Internship Program is a part of a larger effort by the college to reach out to and serve disconnected youth,” said Sandra Watson, Dean of LaGuardia’s Division of Adult and Continuing Education (ACE). “We provide comprehensive educational, work readiness, career development,  personal counseling and job placement services to formerly incarcerated youth in transition through CUNY Catch; to unemployed young adults through the Summer Youth Employment Program; to court involved youth through the Justice Community Program, and to young non-custodial fathers through the CUNY Fatherhood Academy.”

For more information on YAIP call (718) 609-2131. To learn more about other ACE programs visit

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.