Will County Center for Economic Development places Joliet students in summer internships

28 local employers provide on-the-job experience for local youth

The Will County Center for Economic Development has placed 38 Joliet high school students in summer internships in the first year of a program that is going countywide in the coming school year.

Several students already have started their summer work, and others will be on the job in the next week or so, said Kayla Sorensen, director of investor relations for the CED.

The CED is counting the program a success in its first year given the number of students and employers participating, as well as the enthusiasm from other school districts ready to join the program next year.

“We had over 350 applications from students,” Sorensen said. “It was an incredible turnout.”

The internships are paid, and 28 employers are participating in the program.

Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet Emergency Department on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

Some of the participating employers are Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet hospital, Northern Builders, IKEA, Harbor Freight and the Joliet Public Library.

The CED organizes the program, but local employers provide the internships and pay the students. Local high schools generate applicants for the positions.

Students from Joliet Central High School and Joliet West High School will get job experience with a range of employers that include local legislators, power plants, health care providers, manufacturers, builders and social service agencies.

The highest paid position is a $25-per-hour internship for an engineer’s assistant at the Jackson Generation Power Station in Elwood.

In its first year, the CED set up the internship program with Joliet Township High School District 204. But it will go countywide and actually a bit beyond for summer 2025.

Harbor Freight representatives along with Joliet officials and members of Joliet Township School District 204 pose for a photo before the ribbon cutting at the new Harbor Freight facility. Harbor Freight opened a new 1.6 million square-foot distribution center in Joliet that is expected to bring 800 new jobs to the area. Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Joliet.Harbor Freight opened a new 1.6 million square-foot distribution center in Joliet that is expected to bring 800 new jobs to the area. Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Joliet.

School district borders sometimes cross county lines, and any school district that extends into Will County will be able to participate next year, Sorensen said.

“Now, we’ve already laid the groundwork to expand it countywide,” she said. “I’ve started to talk to other superintendents in the county.”

Some already have committed to participating next year.

Those expected at this point to be in the 2025 internship program include Plainfield School District 202, Lockport Township High School District 205 and Minooka School District 201.

“I’ve already received commitments from several schools,” Sorensen said.

The CED launched the program in September to provide local high school students with opportunities to explore careers at worksites and to give employers connections with young people who could become their employees in the future.

In the coming year, employers are asked to submit positions for the program by Nov. 15. Students will be required to submit applications by Feb. 21. Internships will be offered to students in April.