Over a dozen girls from the Mission High School T-STEM Academy and Mission Collegiate High School are participating in a new internship program through the Mission Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The program is designed to advance the careers of high school girls in Mission.

The Career Readiness and Empowerment of Women (CREW) is a multidisciplinary, year-long internship program. The participants were selected based upon their demonstrated academic performance, commitment to the improvement of their community, and a keen interest in pursuing a career in the entrepreneurship and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) fields.

The participants from Mission High School T-STEM Academy are: Brianna Garcia, Kysela Garcia, Ana Gonzalez, Brijida Luna. The participants from Mission Collegiate High School are: Angelica Aguilar, Angelina Ayala, Chelsea Barrientos, Carina Martinez, Wendy Moncivais, Daisy Powers, Yatzziri Ruiz, Xitlaly Villanueva, Odalis Villarreal, Laura Zavala.

The CREW provides interns with the technical skills and soft skills needed to succeed in the entrepreneurship and STEAM fields through four core areas: Career Lab, Mentorship, Social Innovation, and Coding. Interns will go through intensive career readiness training, and also create professional networks with successful women across the globe. During the second semester, CREW interns will focus on developing solutions to problems affecting their community by embarking in social innovation projects. After completing a coding course, they will create the website for their respective social ventures.

The multifaceted approach takes a deep look at what is needed to succeed as a woman, resulting in a one-of-a-kind program that addresses the invisible barriers that keep young women in the Rio Grande Valley from entering careers in the STEAM fields. “Success does not simply rely on having access to computer science or engineering classes. For women in underrepresented fields, success is tied to not being isolated, having role models, a strong support system, and the professional skills to manage difficult situations,” said Cristina Garza, program director. “In other words, they interns will gain the soft and hard skills to navigate a career in which they are expected to be the minority.”

This internship program is the first time that a high school program is based out of the Mission EDC. “Through this innovative internship program, the Mission EDC continues to redefine how economic development is done at a local level, once again prioritizing the professional skills we provide our future Mission leaders,” said Alex Meade, Mission EDC CEO. “Studies have shown that prioritizing financial opportunities and career development for women and girls is one of the single most effective actions a city can take to advance its local economy.”

Mission EDC officials said they plan to extend the CREW program to other schools in the area in the future. This first internship cycle is expected to end in June 2018.