Hire Houston Youth Program Flies High at Houston Airports

This article was written by Hire Houston Youth interns Kevin Balderrama and John Paul Hite.

July 13, 2018

What is the average student doing from the months of June through August? Probably going on vacation, spending time relaxing from the stress of school, or maybe they have a cushy part-time job at their neighborhood pool. Not the 35 student interns at Houston Airports (HAS). These students aren’t average.

These students are focused on making a difference and gaining real world experience to set them apart from their peers in the marketplace. The interns are pursuing a variety of fields, from mechanical and industrial engineering, to aviation management, all the way to art. They apply their skill set to their assignments that range from customer service to accounting and finance, all the way to infrastructure.

“The Houston Airport System has been a proud supporter of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hire Houston Youth program since its inception, and we have seen the growth of the program and the interns that came through and returned to the airport,” said Houston Airports Assistant Director Justina Mann who manages the program.

Hire Houston Youth is a summer jobs program that started on June 11 and finishes on Aug. 16. The program came to fruition after Mayor Sylvester Turner launched a call to action to the business community to address the decrease in numbers of teens participating in the workforce during summer months. This 10-week summer job program will help youth gain employment, build workforce readiness skills and connect to long-term career opportunities.

Each intern has a unique responsibility, like Lyle Boise, senior at Texas Southern University (TSU), interning at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). He heard about Mayor Turner’s Hire Houston Youth internship program from fellow classmates at TSU. HAS has a strong presence of TSU student interns, with 10 students from the university.

“I enjoy working in the airport with my classmates,” said Lyle. “It’s so much fun working together as a group and building cohesive relationships.”

Lyle has an interesting past in aviation. His father was in flight school, and Lyle took part in his education by quizzing him with flashcards. Ever since that moment, he has been hooked on aviation. And it’s not like Lyle is doing your typical intern duties either.

“I’m revamping the HOU information booths and kiosks and integrating technology and new forms of assistance to customers at HOU,” said Lyle.

HAS is not only about aviation but also encompasses many fields.  For example, Ledell Thomas and Kevin Balderrama are interns that are studying Architecture and Constructions science at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Ledell, attending Prairie View A&M, is interning at HAS in Infrastructure’s Planning and Design section.

“Interning will really provide me with important tools like engagement with the airport contractors and going to sites,” said Kevin.

Kevin said he feels he’s also gaining more knowledge and confidence by working with others in the External Affairs by enriching his communication and program ability.

As for Giovanni Fuentes, Safety & Emergency Management (S&EM) intern, he’s handling updating the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). This isn’t a small task either and can have a great impact in the future. Giovanni  is a senior studying Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M. He says he has used certain thought processes he has learned from Engineering to solve problems here in the workplace.

“My relationship with my supervisor, Steve Runge, has been ‘extremely impactful’ and Steve has gone out of his way give me an impactful experience this summer,” said Giovanni.

Overall the HAS interns are not only bringing refreshing ideas to the table but are also becoming the future runners of new ideas to the Houston workforce. The Hire Houston Youth program is providing Houston’s future generations with the necessary tools for success, Houston will see a more robust young professional generation for the city that is investing in education and work opportunities for its residents.

“We had a great group of interns who worked on meaningful projects that I hope will continue to help them as they make decisions about their career paths and possibly bring them back to the airport system,” said Assistant Director Mann.

Fun fact: The 2018 Hire Houston Youth program at Houston Aiports has representation from 11 colleges and universities with three college graduates, 12 seniors, 14 juniors, one sophomore and five Aviation Club (high school) interns.