KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has cemented its commitment to the development of Jamaica’s future leaders through their summer internship program. Now in its eighth year, it has provided temporary employment and training to thousands of high school seniors and tertiary students and continues to show progressive growth each year.
This year, the program placed a record high of 820 persons— a significant increase from the 80 individuals who were selected in the program’s initial year — in various public and private sector organizations. Naturally, the budget for the program also saw an increase from J$8.6 million to J$42 million dollars this year. Thus far, TEF has invested a total of J$146,128,641.00 in the initiative.
This year, the program placed a record high of 820 persons— a significant increase from the 80 individuals who were selected in the programme’s initial year — in various public and private sector organizations. Naturally, the budget for the programme also saw an increase from J$8.6 million to J$42 million dollars this year. Thus far, TEF has invested a total of J$146,128,641 in the program.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill is enthusiastic about the program. “The Ministry’s internship program, administered by TEF, is a very important ingredient in the mix of strategies, policies and initiatives that we have instituted to ensure the sustainability of our important tourism sector. It is a concrete investment in our future as a large number of young people have the opportunity to enjoy hands-on exposure to the complex range of skills required to regulate, support and maintain the sector on the cutting edge,” he stated.
The internship, which is the brainchild of TEF’s Manager of Investments & Accounts Diane Brown-Allen, was created with the intention of making a meaningful impact in the lives of Jamaica’s youth, especially those who are from vulnerable communities.
Allen also sought to ensure that all young people could be awarded the same opportunities in the workplace and would be an asset to any organization. Special preference is given to young persons who have an interest in tourism, they shared that applicants with an interest in other fields are also welcome to apply.
The program runs for a period of 12 weeks in two six-week batches. At the end of the six-week period, both employers and interns are given a mandatory evaluation sheet to give feedback on their experience.
“For some of these interns, the TEF Summer Internship Program is their first exposure to the corporate world. The evaluation is often used as a reference letter when needed for future employment and we keep a record of all our interns on file,” says TEF’s Executive Director, Clyde Harrison.
It is primarily publicised via word of mouth and has grown so vastly, that the selection process takes place at the beginning of the year, with application deadline being the 31st of March. This allows the coordinators and partners to have adequate time for planning, assessment and placement.
“A number of our interns go on to training in the hospitality sector, joining the thousands of Jamaicans who earn a good living in the wide range of companies that are involved directly and indirectly in tourism,” shared Minister McNeill.
Interns who have done well have also been given the opportunity to be placed in permanent jobs, upon the completion of their studies at the organization in which they were placed.
Giselle Lobban is one of the many interns who have now been placed in a permanent position at the organization of their choice, through their affiliation with the TEF Summer Internship Program. Lobban, who started her internship while pursuing her Bachelors in Food and Beverage Management at the University of Technology, is now the Food and Beverage Supervisor for the Melting Pot Restaurant at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, an achievement she credits to her affiliation with the internship.
“Within my first three weeks of the internship program, they asked me to stay on board. I was working at the Courtleigh Hotel and Suites part-time until I graduated from university…It’s a really good program and it really helped me out. I am still reaping the benefits since my internship in 2008” shared Lobban.
At the end, the participants are given a stipend which varies based on their qualifications. This allowance “assists students in meeting their educational expenses, a factor which should also be recognized as an important aspect of the program,” stated Minister McNeill.
TEF also hosts an award ceremony at the end of the summer which celebrates the interns’ accomplishments at the organizations they were placed in. Top performers have been given awards such as scholarships, laptops and book vouchers to assist them in the completion of their studies. A special perk for some interns is that they have received recreational tokens such as airline tickets, and day-passes at various tourism attractions across the island.