This After School Special is Over ☹

Last week WDFA concluded the first year of its internship program with MetWest High School located in Oakland.

CEO and Managing Partner Raj Prasad and Account Director Yvonne Chavez began this program in November 2009. Their mission is to bring real world perspective, the value of hard work and professional experience to at-risk students.

WDFA’s interns, Marissa Yarbrough and Mary White, both 17 years old, are now seniors at MetWest. MetWest is unique in that it only has 131 enrolled students, a low student-teach ratio and, twice a week, students work as interns in the industry of their choice.

Their advisor, Michelle Deiro, is the former teacher and mentor of both Raj and Yvonne. Once Ms. Deiro (whom they’ve stayed in contact with over the years and still have a hard time calling by her first name) told them about MetWest’s internship program, WDFA couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help.

Yvonne, Raj, Ms. Deiro, Mary & Marissa

“I personally did it because I understand how important it is to gain real work experiences at such a young age,” says Yvonne. “My relationship with my high school teachers (my mentors) really influenced me and taught me what it means to work hard. I would be in a very different place if it weren’t for Ms. Deiro. Having a role model made me want to be a mentor for someone else.”

Plus…

“I remember going to Nestle as a one-day intern in high school and it was AWESOME. I wanted to be the Nestle president… And that was only one day! I’m still working on my chocolate dream.”

All the work Marissa and Mary completed directly related to live client projects. They worked with everyone at WDFA, learning the full spectrum of day-to-day marketing agency responsibilities.

Marissa gave a lovely review, saying, “WDFA taught me so much about marketing and the business world. My mentors and the staff helped me understand the rights and wrongs about life. I really appreciate the resources they provided for me; I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.”

Mary echoed the same sentiment. “My experience at WDFA Marketing was amazing. From learning about how to be professional, to just learning people’s names made me a better person. My mentors Raj and Yvonne never gave up on me and promised that they never will. They encouraged me to succeed past what I thought I was capable of.”

Eight months later, the girls have graduated from WDFA and hope to pursue marketing and advertising in their college careers. With the high school dropout rate in Oakland at 31%, we couldn’t be more proud of them, and want to thank them from the bottom of our jaded hearts for reminding us why we got into this business in the first place.

MetWest was recently featured on ABC 7, check out the video here. See Mary in the background at :43 – she’s wearing green and has the stylish hairdo.

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MetWest High School is a “Big Picture Learning School” in the Oakland Unified School District. As a primary participant in the Internship and Mentorship Collaborative Program, which is run by the Oakland Schools Foundation, MetWest prepares young adults to recognize and take advantage of all resources for their personal well being. Their graduates will have the skills, habits, knowledge and community to overcome obstacles to their success, access four-year colleges and contribute positively to the world.

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