For several years S. M. Wilson has hosted summer interns through the St. Louis Internship Program (SLIP). SLIP partners with businesses and community organizations to build the St. Louis community by developing motivated, well-trained, and talented future employees. Students complete a guided application process and rigorous work readiness training to prepare for their eight-week, full-time summer internship. Upon completion, they continue to receive college prep and career planning services along with access to a network of supportive peers and professionals. The SLIP program is helping to cultivate a diverse talent pipeline which impacts economic, workforce, professional, and personal development in the St. Louis region.
The challenges of 2020 and the COVID pandemic have had a lasting effect on individuals and businesses throughout our community, making programs like SLIP even more critical. With various changes and increased flexibility in place at S. M. Wilson’s St. Louis headquarters, providing a meaningful full-time experience did not seem practical; yet the needs of the program and students remained important – it was time to get creative.
S. M. Wilson has been a long time supporter of The Little Bit Foundation so partnering with them to create a hybrid internship program was an easy solution. Through their corporate giving fund, #SMWill, S. M. Wilson covered the cost of one SLIP student to split their time between the two organizations providing an opportunity for the student intern to receive exposure in a corporate and nonprofit work setting.
“Having the opportunity to work with S.M. Wilson and The Little Bit Foundation has been an amazing learning experience. I believe that being able to see both sides of the corporate and nonprofit world gave me a deeper understanding on how each functioned and also provided new insight on the different ways that they give back to the community. Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and can definitely say that I feel more confident in my professional and college readiness.” says SLIP student intern, Sonja N.
Michelle Abel, the Chief Development Officer for The Little Bit Foundation, adds “We are incredibly grateful for the support from S. M. Wilson for more than 10 years now and this shared internship program is one more example of the dedication they have for making a difference in the community. It’s clear that the SLIP program prepares high school students well to be successful in a work environment, as Sonja was able to contribute to our team and help support us in our efforts to serve under-resourced students in St. Louis.”
Sonja spent her time with S. M. Wilson assisting multiple departments including Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, HR, Marketing, and Operations. She was also able to get involved with external groups preparing for Suicide Prevention Week with AGCMO and creating an activity for Aim High’s Career Day as part of the company’s construction career education program SKILLED®. In her time at The Little Bit Foundation, Sonja worked with the Development Department and assisted with volunteers in the warehouse. She helped strengthen the relationship between the two organizations by organizing an info session, school supply drive, and volunteer event as part of her summer project.
S. M. Wilson’s Diversity & HR Manager, Maggie Farrell says, “Our SLIP intern has exceeded our expectations. The SLIP program has thoroughly prepared students to begin contributing to companies right away. We look forward to continuing to invest in the community by supporting this program along with other non-profit organizations such as The Little Bit Foundation for years to come and can’t wait to see the continued growth and success of SLIP students like Sonja.”
SLIP’s Director & Career and Workforce Readiness Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, Shanise Johnson adds,“Developing and cultivating a talent pipeline has been personified through the internship opportunity with S. M. Wilson/The Little Bit Foundation. SLIP Interns complete a lengthy process, including 60 hours of training and development, to earn an internship. Sonja has grown tremendously throughout the process and has shown that high school students are able to complete value-added projects (which is much more than job shadowing). We are excited to continue to work with regional employers to make a positive impact in the lives of the students that we serve as well as the community-at-large.”
Interested in hosting a SLIP student? Visit – www.bgcstl.org/slip/