Ben Devore’s career path took a major shift this summer after he served an eight-week internship with Bank of America’s Student Leaders program.
The rising Suncoast High School senior, who was one of five Palm Beach County high school students selected to work with West Palm Beach nonprofit Communities in Schools of Palm Beach County as part of the paid internship, had planned to pursue a career as a computer programmer after college.
Now he has his eye on non-profit work.
“It’s definitely changed my outlook for my entire life,” the Palm Beach Gardens resident said of the internship, which ended Friday.
“It totally ruined my plan. I’m glad I figured it out now rather than 10 years down the road. I thought I was going to school for computer science and then get a job as a programmer, make a good wage. I can’t do that. I have to have some influence in changing the community.”
Devore, 17, along with Atlantic High School senior Adriana Cantos, 17, Dreyfoos School of the Arts senior Keli Hodges, 17, Suncoast High School senior Gabrielle Holtzman, 17, and Spanish River High School graduate Phil Esterman, 18, were among 220 high school juniors and seniors from throughout the country who participated in the Student Leaders program.
Created 10 years ago by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation in an effort to positively impact local teen unemployment, the program provides students with access and exposure to resources that could help bolster their work and life skills while also benefiting the community.
Palm Beach County students worked with a variety of non-profit organizations during their internship, including Quantum House, Caring Kitchen, CROS Food Pantries and the Hispanic Human Resources Council.
“We had a really diverse set-up,” said Esterman, a Boca Raton resident who will attend Yale University this fall. “We went to different locations, and at each location we did a lot of different things. Everything was hands on.”
Students were paid $10 an hour for approximately 35 hours of work per week. The internship also included a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., for a student leadership summit.
The summit included a service learning project and a series of interactive workshops, including Capitol Hill briefings and sessions on financial education and leadership development skills.
“It was such an eye-opening experience for me,” Cantos said of her internship. “It’s made me realize how fortunate I am. I really want to help out, not for next year, but for the rest of my life.”