Jonathan Giron wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after high school.
But an internship at Truliant Federal Credit Union helped him figure out his next steps. Giron, the youngest of seven children and a lifelong Winston-Salem resident, graduated from North Forsyth High School in the spring.
During his last semester, he connected with Truliant through Greater Winston-Salem Inc.’s Aspire paid internship program. The Aspire program is designed to introduce students to job opportunities, develop job skills and create a potential path of upward economic mobility.
“I was connected with Truliant,” Giron said, “because of my interest in technology and how it affects our lives.”
Giron started in late February, joining Truliant’s IT support services team for two hours a day, four days a week, during his last periods of school. He spent much of his initial time shadowing co-workers.
Most of his assignments involved taking computers apart, replacing parts, helping upgrade hardware, getting new employees set up with their technology needs and learning the different aspects of working in an IT department.
“I hadn’t done any IT jobs before,” Giron said. “I really enjoyed it. I like the manual part of it – how the intricate parts of a computer work together to keep the system working properly.”
A large part of the shadowing experience was learning what employers look for in IT workers and the specific skills that are required. “He was really drawn to hardware,” said Csilla Dobey, Truliant’s IT service desk manager. “He ended up working with our field techs taking apart computers and replacing parts.”
Dobey said that the IT team encouraged Giron to continue his education and helped him work through various issues, like financing. “In talking with him, he was convinced he wanted to work and go to college, but he wasn’t sure where or how to pay for college,” Dobey said.
His Truliant co-workers helped Giron explore the benefits of furthering his technology education before entering the workforce. Giron spoke with Truliant employees who approached their education differently.
“We introduced him to people from different backgrounds who chose different paths. Some went to college, a community college or a trade school. Others went straight to work,” Dobey said. She added that after meeting with co-workers, the IT team would follow up with him and ask what he took away from their conversations.
“He was still very concerned about funding his studies,” Dobey said. So the Truliant IT team helped him research possible funding sources.
“We talked a lot about opportunities and how you have to take advantage of them,” Dobey said. “We discussed how one opportunity leads to another and how each opportunity is a place to grow. We explained how people cross paths with you for a reason and you should take advantage of that,” Dobey said.
Giron’s IT experience at Truliant convinced him to continue his education. So when he discovered he could attend Forsyth Tech for free, he enrolled and will start this fall.
Free tuition, books and fees are provided at Forsyth Tech to all North Carolina high school graduates in 2022 through its Class of 2022 College Commitment. Visit https://scholarship.forsythtech.edu for more information.
Giron said that the job helped him figure out what he wants to do in life – and what he needs to do to get there. “I was feeling tired of high school. I wanted to take a break before pursuing more education,” Giron said.
“But I got a lot of encouragement from my co-workers. They urged me to take more classes. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come up a lot,” Giron said.
At the end of his internship, his co-workers took up a collection and bought him a laptop for school. “We wanted to do something to set him on a good path,” Dobey said. “He needed a little bit of direction. There’s a lot of opportunity out there for kids.”
The ASPIRE WS internship helps WSFCS juniors and seniors gain job skills and explore career choices. ASPIRE WS operates in the following schools: Carver, Glenn, Kennedy, North Forsyth, Parkland, Reynolds and Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy.
After completing an application and Employability Workshop, students participate in mock interviews, create a resume and learn skills that will help them succeed in the world of work. ASPIRE WS offers internships throughout the year. Students are guaranteed $10 per hour.