Santa Barbara County’s Partners in Education is looking for Santa Maria professionals to help with job readiness program

Photo courtesy of Erika Terrazas
CAREER READINESS: During Partners in Education Job Readiness Training and Internship Program, local professionals will coach students in résumé building and cover letter writing and will conduct mock interviews in preparation for students’ future careers.

Erika Terrazas participated in Partners in Education’s Job Readiness Training and Internship Program when she was in high school in 2010. And now, as the nonprofit’s program services manager, she’s recruiting professionals in Santa Maria to volunteer for the same job readiness program she did 14 years ago, she told the Sun

“From experience, it’s really important to learn those basic skills that will be beneficial when applying for a job,” Terrazas said. 

Administered by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, Partners in Education prepares students for college, careers, or the next grade.

The eight-week program brings in professionals from the community to coach students in résumé building, cover letter writing, financial literacy skills, professional communication, and interview skills. Within this time, the county will also bring in human resources professionals to host panel discussions and speak about employee rights, and energy and health care professionals will host a panel about their respective fields. 

As of Feb. 7, Terrazas was looking for five volunteers from Santa Maria to coach students on these life skills, help them prepare for future careers, and provide insight to their professions, she said. 

“I think it’s beneficial because our volunteers motivate students and provide real life experiences; they are great role models for students who may not know about the workforce or are just learning,” Terrazas said. “I think their expertise is critical in this development, and we want to provide them with different voices, especially in the Santa Maria community, and different backgrounds and pathways and exposure to those.” 

Before becoming a coach, professionals must complete a Live Scan background check and training. Partners in Education provides a curriculum with talking points, but it’s flexible for the coaches to adapt to their own experiences, she said. The deadline to volunteer is Feb. 20, and the spring program starts Feb. 22. 

While applications for students already closed for this round, Partners in Education hosts the Job Readiness and Internship program twice a year, with the next round happening in fall 2024. While Partners in Education rotates its program between Santa Barbara County cities to ensure it equally distributes resources, Terrazas added that Santa Maria will continue to be a place they focus on because the high school district has the most schools and a large student population.

To participate, students must fill out an application and submit an essay to Partners in Education. Once they complete the free program, students receive a $200 stipend and work as an intern for 80 hours with local businesses where they are paid minimum wage. 

Terrazas said that participating students get a leg up by having their résumés ready now to apply for jobs. 

“And at the same time, they’re earning $200 to do something they would later have to do on their own,” she said. “Getting that support from volunteers and coaching is so important.” 

Visit for more information, and call (805) 964-4170 or email [email protected] with any questions. 


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Reach Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor at [email protected].

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