Internship: Lever, Inc.
In 2018, Pittsfield, Massachusetts native Jade Schnauber was studying sociology and education at MCLA in North Adams. She was looking for summer work, and one day an email appeared in their inbox from the manager at Berkshire Interns. She set up an interview and was quickly offered an internship as the workforce programs assistant, helping Lever connect other college students to local internship opportunities.
In the summer of 2019, Jade returned to Lever again as the workforce program assistant. Their previous work experience had been with student organizations at MCLA, which tend to be more laid back. Their work at Lever helped them learn what it takes to be in an office environment and all the intricacies that come with working for a small nonprofit.
In May 2020, Jade became Lever’s full-time workforce programs manager, helping to further build out the Berkshire Interns programming. Through Lever’s workforce programs, she has now helped place 98 interns at 27 Berkshire companies. All of the interns took part in social and career-readiness programming and Jade offered additional help with resources like transportation and housing for those that need it.
“Berkshire Interns is a great program to be involved in because you expand your professional network and you get to meet a lot of different people, including a lot of peers in the area,“ they said. “But I think, even if you were looking for a job outside of the Berkshire region, the skills you learn in the program will help get you oriented and learn how to connect to whatever community that you’re in.”
Since she had interned at Lever for two summers, Jade already had deep knowledge on Berkshire Interns. “It gave me the general background I needed to be able to do the job I have now,” she said “I have a unique position of being with the program from its very beginning.”
Jade always wanted to stay in the Berkshires to help their local community and knew she wanted a career where she could make an immediate impact. So in their first year as workforce programs manager, Jade created BI’s Inclusive Internship Preparation Program, or I2P2, which helps students from underrepresented groups secure internships and launch their careers.
It means a lot for Jade to give back and see the benefits of young people returning and enjoying their workplaces, both in their internships and in the general Berkshire region.
Her internship gave Jade a vast network of local connections that helped when it was time to find people to work with interns in the I2P2 program. Jade’s network of mentors, employers, and contacts have helped her help others, connecting ten mentors with 16 students. “In terms of the program’s (I2P2) success, we had three students get full-time internships in the Berkshires that summer,” they said.
On the heels of I2P2’s success, Jade plans to offer internships through BI during the school year. The workforce programs are a meaningful way to contribute to Lever’s goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it’s important to them personally. “We know from local workforce experts that many of our local businesses feel they lack access to qualified professionals. So it’s in everyone’s interest to make room, to invite new people into our professional networks, and to create new diverse opportunities for the growing Berkshire community.”