From Classroom to Cubicle: A High School Student’s Internship at ILLUME

Posted June 8, 2023

Last August, ILLUME became a partner in San Miguel High School’s Corporate Work Study Program. San Miguel empowers youth by integrating their academics with practical work experience and marketable skills. Students work in job-sharing teams and positions for companies and organizations throughout the greater Tucson area. ILLUME was matched with a San Miguel sophomore that works in our Tucson office five days each month to provide administrative support to our Recruiting and Marketing and Business Development Teams. As the school year ends, we asked our intern to share their experience working at ILLUME and how they might translate it into future opportunities and a career.

What did you think when first found out you would be working at ILLUME?

My reaction when I was assigned to ILLUME was full of curiosity because I had never heard of such a place. On my first day, I realized that I worked at a clean energy company. A company that’s rather small but does many great things and has many clients. I was introduced to something called “coffee chats.” It’s something where you have a meeting with everyone on the team individually and you are given the chance to get to know them. My very first day was full of meetings, but I had no issues with it because it was so interesting getting to know so many people and what they are about. ILLUME introduced me to a variety of people and I got to learn a tiny bit about who they are as a person, what their favorite food is, and the activities they enjoy.

What’s been the best part of your experience working at ILLUME?

Here at ILLUME, I’ve learned so many new skills to bring to the work environment. This is my first internship here and so far, I’ve learned a lot of useful things that will not only benefit me in my next internship but in the future as well. I’ve learned better time management, the basics of using Microsoft Excel, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere, graphic design techniques, and how to build good relationships in the workplace. I find that all these skills will really help me when I want to form a career.

What skills did you learn that will help you with your education, next internship, or career?

In the future I want to become a tattoo artist and hopefully a piercer. When I was shown how graphic design works and what it is I knew immediately that learning that skill would be super beneficial for the career path I want to take. I want to go to college to major in art and anatomy, as well as business.

Original student sketches

When I worked with ILLUME’s graphic design department on making cards from scratch was so thrilling because I was able to learn how to work with Adobe. Being able to learn how to use Photoshop was super helpful as well because it can be very useful when promoting my work.

In the future, I want to build my own workshop and be my own boss. I know it won’t be easy, but learning these skills with ILLUME now puts me ahead of many others my age that want to be an entrepreneur. I can’t wait to take all these skills I learned here and nurture them into my future career to allow it to grow.

Have you learned anything unexpected during your internship?

At ILLUME I learned so many things about so many kinds of people. Many people at ILLUME are vegans and I thought it was interesting to learn about what food and snacks they can eat and the impact of their diet on the environment. I also learned how to separate recycling and trash. That was something I struggled to understand, but ever since I started working here, I gained a better understanding of it. I know it’s a small thing to learn but I found it useful because now I know what I’m doing when I come across those bins in public.

How will your time at ILLUME help with future internships and your academics?

ILLUME is such a positive work environment to be a part of and I am thankful to my school for allowing me to be an intern here. It’s been an amazing experience. The benefits of having internships now are that I will have experience in a variety of work environments, and I will be able to put this on my resume. I will be better qualified for a job than someone with no experience whatsoever. Going to San Miguel will help me get into a great college so I can achieve many amazing things like being able to get ahead in life, as well as being the person I wish to become.

“I’m very thankful to the Cristo Rey Network and San Miguel for giving me these opportunities and to ILLUME to allow me the chance to work here.”

To learn more about hiring a student or sponsoring the San Miguel High School Corporate Work Study Program, check out their online resources here.