Central Florida Program Helps Foster Teens with Internships

For many Central Florida teens in foster care it can be tough getting the experience you need to go on to college or the workforce, without reliable transportation and family support.

The group Embrace Families connects foster teens with paid internships through their Career Builder program, which is funded by Career Source Central Florida. Embrace families also helps the teens get to their internships by paying for Uber rides and other modes of transportation.

One of the companies they’ve partnered with is Reed Nissan in Orlando. Hartley Villagra interns in their marketing department.

“Most kids started having jobs at 16 years old, so when you’re a foster kid it’s a little more difficult to have transportation, communication with people,” Villagra said.

This is her first job. She says getting into the foster care system in her teens made it difficult to find work.

“I was put in the system when I was 15, so definitely during those teenage years, it was kind of difficult with emotions and hormones and it was just kind of running around all over the place and I was kind of moved from place to place a lot of switching high schools,” Villagra said.

James Siliga interns with the service department. He also spent his teen years in foster care.

“For me I didn’t have my family to actually be on my side, I’ve been through a couple abuse cases with them, and then I went to a friend’s family who did the exact same thing,” Siliga said.

General Manager Aaron Hill says it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

“So they’re learning valuable skills in the workplace with the opportunity to make a mistake every now and then,” Hill said.

While the money and skills are nice.

These teens really appreciate the confidence they get to chase their future and to be more than their past.

“Before I was always talking to myself like I can’t make to what I want to be…and now that I’m actually be able to come over here and work for myself and earn my own money and do my own thing it’s a sense of independence,” Siliga said.

So their name tags may say “sales intern” today, but their dreams and this experience will take them much further.

James dream: “Music production because I actually want to record music.”

Hartley’s dream: “I want to be a detective for the police force.”

Credit for this story goes to Eric Mock, News 13