Most internships don’t begin with a basketball bet.
But for Charlie — a participant in the FutureConnect program at East Side Neighborhood Services — losing on the court was the first step toward gaining professional skills.
When Charlie graduated from Menlo Park Academy Alternative High School, another program of East Side Neighborhood Services, program coordinator Perris Johnson suggested that he enroll in the 2017 FutureConnect cohort.
Through project-based instruction, participants in FutureConnect cultivate work readiness and explore career pathways. For someone like Charlie, who dreamed becoming a chef and owning a restaurant, FutureConnect offers relevant internships that build both technical and ‘soft’ skills.
Even so, Charlie wasn’t quite convinced — which is when Perris suggested a bet. “If I won a pick-up basketball game against him, he would enroll in the program,” Perris says. “But if I lost, I couldn’t bring up my program to them again.”
When Perris won the game, Charlie honored his bet and enrolled.
“Not knowing what to expect, Charlie was a little resistant at first. But as the weeks went on, he showed more of an interest in and a commitment to the program,” says Perris.
Each program cohort moves through four phases together, starting with work readiness training and career pathways exploration. Following these foundational stages, participants pursue advanced training and internships in a field that interests them.
When the 2017 cohort arrived at the internship phase, Charlie naturally gravitated toward the Hospitality pathway, looking for an opportunity that would provide hands-on experience in the kitchen as well as an introduction to the business side of running a successful restaurant.
Now, Charlie is completing an internship at The Lyn Hall — a new, upscale café located in South Minneapolis. Perris says that “Charlie has shown hard work, commitment, and maturity through this whole process.”
“He will definitely be successful in the hospitality field,” says Perris.