Step Up Program connecting hundreds of teens and young adults with internships

Posted at 6:15 AM, Jul 01, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - — Three different students, in three different stages in life.

"If you want to make a bigger step in your career, you have to be professional," future UNO freshmen Jorge Gutierrez said.

The students have similar goals this summer.

One is to leave their summer jobs with something money can't buy.

"This place is helping me succeed in that," Gutierrez said.

Jorge Gutierrez, Jasyn Howard and Devenae Henderson are in the Step Up program.

The Organization connects youth and young adults (ages 14-21) with summer internships and mentors.

Henderson is a 20-year-old student who attends UNO, she wants to become a detective.

Henderson recently began interning with the Omaha Police Department.

"Learning this first-hand and seeing the detective work (I got to go with him to do the arrest warrants and see the judge), I saw him put his hand up and stuff, all that stuff is cool to me," she said.

Jasyn Howard, a 16-year-old Omaha North Student says he wanted a productive summer.

He started a job at the newly opened Huskerland Popcorn shop.

"Learning good on the job skills, like how to talk to people and interact with other people ... and people skills is like a big part of customer service or anything," Howard said.

The students aren't on their own.

Step Up coaches check their progress and serve as mentors.

"They know that have somebody to count on, that they can call, [and] they can text if something's not going the way it should," Coach Natalie Garcia said. Or simply to let us know hey things are going great."

Gutierrez says his coach and coworkers are now like family.

"This place is like a third home for me," he said. Everyone here is so friendly, everyone's like a family member to me, it's like a big bundle of joy."

Employers say they appreciate what Step Up is doing for the community.

"Our biggest motivation behind it is just to kind of help our youth learn a different skill set that they'll get, that they'll be able to use long after they even leave Huskerland popcorn,"Huskerland Popcorn Owner Brandon Louis said.

Howard says future interns should, "make sure that you're not just doing it for the money, and make sure that you're actually trying to pick it up and learn something," he said.

"It's great program and I think that everybody my age should, and a little older and younger should be doing it," Howard said.

You can learn more about the Step Up program at