Kicks USA Partnership With NCC Changes Lives, One Step At A Time

By Aliyah Rawles

During the six-week summer internship, KicksUSA interns participated in life skills workshops.
During the six-week summer internship, KicksUSA interns
participated in life skills workshops.

Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, may seem like a haven for crime. However, what many Newark natives may not know is that New Community Corporation offers various opportunities to Newark’s citizens. One program in particular that New Community’s Workforce Development Center offers is the Academic Enrichment and High School Diploma Program for Older Youth. This program gives students the chance to earn their high school diploma.
For Sierra White, 18, being a recent graduate of the program has turned out to be very beneficial. White began the program in February. She finished in May and received her diploma after passing the exam. As a result of participating in the program, White was referred to the KicksUSA summer internship. The partnership between urban footwear store KicksUSA and New Community is offered to job seekers between the ages of 16 to 21 and lasts a total of six weeks.
During the six week stretch, in addition to working store shifts in their assigned KicksUSA stores, the interns participate in career workshops that serve the students well beyond the program as they move on to other endeavors. Through the internship, White has been able to build a special bond with a particular co-worker based off one commonality—the co-worker used to be an intern too! At the end of the summer program, interns who reach their weekly sales goals and are seen as positive additions to the franchise are offered employment. Seeing that a job opportunity is possible, White hopes that KicksUSA will keep her on the job as a sales associate after the program ends.
“Sometimes you have to just go for it,” said White.
Aaron Scott, a KicksUSA store manager, led one of the weekly workshops designed to equip the interns with life skills, interview tips, financial literacy and coaching, and more.
“Excuses are tools of the incompetent,” Scott said to the group, challenging them to take ownership of their summer experience.
White said she is happy with her internship and believes that New Community—through earning her high school diploma and gaining a summer of retail experience—can continue to aid her in the accomplishment of her career goals.
Aliyah Rawles is a summer intern at the Clarion through a partnership with Rutgers R U Ready For Work.

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