STEP-UP for Local Students

By Amanda Ellis, Marketing Coordinator, Chattanooga Chamber

What can you and your business gain from hosting local high schoolers in their first professional work experiences? 

STEP-UP Chattanooga, a Public Education Foundation program, launched last year as a robust internship program for high school juniors and seniors in Hamilton County public schools.

This summer, STEP-UP Chattanooga will place 175 local students with public institutions, nonprofits and businesses like you.

STEP-UP provides students with work readiness training as well as support throughout the internship.  


You’ll gain creative solutions to everyday business problems and help with your everyday workload.

“Instead of assigning our interns specific tasks, we designed our program around a series of projects. The students researched topics and presented solutions to various departments based on their findings.

Not only did the students learn about our company and the array of jobs we offer, but we learned from them. They used technologies to present their solutions that many of our managers had never heard of.

The STEP-UP program supports an amazing community initiative with the added benefit of extra help for the summer.”

- Danielle Rhodes, SHRM-CP, PHR | EPB Human Resources

“Through our STEP-UP participation, we’ve been able to leverage resources that have helped us gain continued support from our funders.”

- James Brantley, Community Engagement Director | Chattanooga Zoo

“We’ve developed a comprehensive program that helps our intern learn while assisting with the needs of our organization.  Our intern supported us by providing tours for patrons, assisting staff and teachers during field trips, retrieving and shelving books and materials from our closed research area, performing shelf maintenance tasks and hanging exhibitions. The added manpower was a huge help, and we look forward to our next STEP-UP intern.”

- Dionne Jennings, President | Bessie Smith Cultural Center

You’ll help create pathways to success.

“We’re heading into our 15th year of providing summer employment through our participation in the Promoting Ethnic Diversity in Zoos workforce development program, and STEP-UP is a natural fit since they recruit from the same demographics our program targets.

Today’s youth need multiple, flexible pathways to achieve credentials, employment and economic success. We work together with Step-Up to create these pathways to success by combining work experience, education, training and support.”

- James Brantley, Community Engagement Director | Chattanooga Zoo

“When circumstances seem bleak and prospects are virtually nonexistent, STEP-UP internships provide hope and help for a better tomorrow for these interns, and your team receives the benefit of knowing they have impacted the next generation in a positive way.”

- Merri Mai Williamson, SPHR | Application Researchers, LLC

You’ll provide practical experience in a meaningful way.

“STEP-UP engages students in jobs they might not be aware of, and teaches them necessary skills as they prepare for college and their early careers — skills such as business and meeting etiquette, email communication, basic financials research for projects and drafting proposals.”

- Danielle Rhodes, SHRM-CP, PHR | EPB Human Resources

“Although students may work in an assigned area, they also see how our various departments work in concert to present our product to the consumer market. 

Additionally, we provide hands-on experience with a typical work environment: arranging transportation, reporting to work as scheduled, understanding the importance of safety and work supplies, attending meetings that require good professional etiquette. 

All of these attributes are important in the big picture of securing and retaining a job.”

- Robert Long, Head of North America | Sanofi Consumer Healthcare (Chattem, Inc.)

You’ll give back and enhance the local future workforce.

“We want students to be aware of the many career opportunities available at EPB that go beyond keeping the lights and internet service on. Our participation in STEP-UP allows us to make an important contribution to our community’s young people, as well as to the development of a workforce that will benefit our community in the future.”

- Danielle Rhodes, SHRM-CP, PHR | EPB Human Resources

You’ll engage with new energy and fresh talent.

“When you bring in someone who has never had a formal job before, it’s a roll of the dice, but we loved seeing our intern jump in with a positive outlook when met with a line of people waiting to get in our doors. She inadvertently boosted the morale of our entire admissions deapartment by taking to the position so quickly and enthusiastically.”

- Andrew B. Kroeger, Admissions Manager | Tennessee Aquarium

“Although I founded and now manage a business, my background is in human resources. So I understand and appreciate the value of opening doors of opportunity, both for my team and the intern, through the STEP-UP program. The youthful perspective of our intern challenged everyone on our team to think, and my team members gained project management experience through supervising our intern.”

- Merri Mai Williamson, SPHR | Application Researchers, LLC


Ready to sign up? Find a full list of STEP-UP business partners and more information about hosting an intern here

STEP-UP partners include the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, the Benwood Foundation, the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Hamilton County Department of Education and Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.

-Jan. 31, 2017