ABOVE: Commissioner Gene L. Locke and Summer Interns of the Leadership Experience and Employment Program
This past Tuesday, dozens of students were honored for their hard work and personal achievement during an appreciation luncheon hosted by the Precinct One Leadership Experience and Employment Program (L.E.E.P.).
Founded by late Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee in 1985, the L.E.E.P. program places high school graduates and college students in summer internships in select county departments and private businesses. While some young people are spending their summer lounging on the beach or chasing virtual creatures in the newest reality game craze, many others are learning leadership skills and gaining on-the-job training to prepare for future opportunities.
The students are often placed in positions that match their chosen field of study, such as engineering, teaching, health care and communications. Over the program’s 30-year existence, there have been more than 2,500 interns. This year, there are about 101 interns.
Commissioner Gene L. Locke told the interns they were fortunate to be taken care of by their families and to be the beneficiaries of somebody’s prayers.
“That’s what this program is all about. It’s about giving you experience and leadership,” said Commissioner Locke. “It’s important to understand that, because when you understand that, you then understand what your obligation is going forward – to be a benefit to somebody else.”
Lorena Mitchell, a senior attending the University of Houston majoring in digital media, said her internship at the Harris County Protective Services has kept her busy with analyzing social media counts, doing animated public service announcements, video graphing and photographing.
“It’s better because I understand how to set up workload,” said Mitchell, who plans to be an animator at a film studio. “In classes, they give you an assignment, and they give you a set amount of time to do it. But now, someone comes to you and tells you that it’s due Thursday, and you have to get it done.”
Chelsea Jolivette, a junior at Dillard University majoring in business administration with a concentration in management, is working at Binkley & Barfield Consulting Engineers Inc.’s accounting department. Her duties include helping with employee files, working on invoices and getting the company prepared for audits.
“I love the experience because I can get the feel of how it is to work in an office environment,” said Jolivette, who plans to start a cosmetics company in the future. “So whenever I graduate and get a permanent job, I won’t be blindsided. I know how to work effectively and efficiently.”
First time L.E.E.P. intern Cassidy Dixon, a Howard University film and television major, said the program has given her a great opportunity to gain experience and understand how to function in a professional work environment. As part of her intern responsibilities, Dixon produced a video about the program. The video, which featured several of the interns describing their work duties, was played during the appreciation luncheon and received thunderous applause from the audience.
“It (producing the video) taught me how to work with a team, accept feedback and apply that to my projects,” said Dixon.
At the L.E.E.P. luncheon, the students received certificates of achievement and posed for photographs with Commissioner Locke and their work supervisors.
Commissioner Locke encouraged the interns to embrace learning and strive to be better in every aspect of their life.
“I hope the experience this summer has taught you to understand the work place and to be more self-confident in your ability to handle new and different challenges,” said Commissioner Locke. “Never stop learning, and you will put yourself in a position to grow intellectually and spiritually as you help others.”