Academic enrichment and rigor in the classroom are just as important as preparing students for the workplace and beyond. Internship programs for high school students are no longer an option, but a necessity if students are to thrive in their chosen careers. Increasingly, employers want to hire recent graduates with workplace experience.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) working collaboratively with the Beacon Council, has recognized this trend and has made preparing students for the workforce a priority. As part of the Beacon Council’s One Community One Goal (OCOG) Target Industry Strategic Plan, M-DCPS has worked to align student coursework, training and internship programs that target seven professional industries – aviation, creative design, hospitality and tourism, information technology, international banking and finance, life sciences and health care, and trade and logistics.

M-DCPS Career Technical Education (CTE) ensures students are college and career-ready through programs aligned to career clusters. CTE students graduate with world-class academic and technological skills, and industry-recognized certifications critical to their transition to higher education and careers, giving them an edge in the career and college application process. Recognized by the National Academy Foundation, the district’s industry-themed career academies – which support skill development and career awareness related to OCOG target industries – are a model for the nation. Stu-dents participate in summer internships; network with business and community leaders; participate in community service projects, and are eligible for dual enrollment courses and college scholarships.

Initiatives like the Superintendent’s Business Advisory Council encourage school/business partnerships that expand the conversation around creating a roadmap to success for students. These and other district initiatives have made M-DCPS a national leader and among the highest performing districts in the nation as evidenced by the district’s 2012 Broad Prize recognition and the College Board AP Equity and Excellence District of the Year.