As high school students get closer to graduation, the reality of having a job becomes clear. Goodwill offers a program called OneLife to students in Buncombe County Schools to help them decide what their future career plans are. Students apply to be a part of the program, and work with Goodwill employees throughout the school year. Once summer rolls around those students participate in paid internships that are specific to their interest.
“Goodwill pays the students up to 100 hours during the summer,” said Mark Roberts, OneLife Coordinator. “This year we were able to pay the students $12 an hour. We’ve also helped them with resume building, how to apply for jobs, interview skills, money management, and healthy relationship skills.”
The program has been going strong for eight years and has brought about many success stories. Mr. Roberts says that students learn what they want to major in during college, and some discover that they want to take a different path than originally thought.
“One of my favorite success stories is of an intern we had during the summer of 2021,” he said. “She worked extremely hard and saved up enough money to purchase a car.”
Current participants have been interning at veterinary clinics, doctors offices, radio stations, along with other businesses across Buncombe County.
“I have learned so much working at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge and how to properly care for wild animals,” said 12th graders Mia. “This opportunity has also shown me how much I love to work with animals. I wanted to go into psychology in college, but now I think I want to also do something involving animals.”
Many of the students speak very highly of the program and the opportunities they’ve had this summer. One student says he has a dream to own his own business one day.
“I enjoyed having this new experience to learn,” said 11th grader Juan. “I think OneLife is a great benefit to high school students who are trying to gain job experience. Everything I have learned has inspired me to have my own coffee shop one day. I would encourage anyone thinking about joining OneLife this school year to just do it; the experience and skills learned are worth it.”