For students in the WS/FCS Career Academies program, the highlight of their immersive learning experience is a professional-level internship at a company in their field of interest. Career Academies are offered at seven high schools, focusing on a variety of career paths including finance, information technology, health sciences, hospitality and tourism, public safety, construction and design, pharmacy tech, biotechnology, and more.

The Career Academy students are prepared to add value to the businesses that hire them. By their junior year, these students have already received rigorous academic and industry-specific training in school. Students also have field trips to colleges and companies related to their academy theme. Thus, Career Academy students are ahead of the average high school student in work-readiness skills due to continued exposure to the business community. 

Through the Chamber’s partnership with the school system, the Chamber engages the business community in offering these valuable internship experiences to Career Academy students. Students are placed with various Chamber member organizations, including here in our own office.

This summer, the Chamber is excited to welcome rising senior Desmond Sparks to our team as part of the internship program. Desmond’s internship placement was made possible by a sponsorship from Allegacy Federal Credit Union.  

Desmond’s job responsibilities include providing general support to the school system’s Traditional Volunteer Program and the Chamber’s Senior Academy and Corporate Volunteers Programs, assisting in planning and implementing a WS/FC Schools Employee Appreciation Event, and participating in leadership development activities with all members of the Chamber staff. 

Desmond attends Mount Tabor High School where he is a participant in Crosby Scholars and has been selected for a leadership role on the Varsity football team. Desmond has participated in a variety of extra-curricular and service-based opportunities which have given him a range of experience, making him an ideal internship candidate.

Desmond describes his academic accomplishments and plans for the future, saying “In the Mount Tabor Academy of Sports Marketing & Hospitality Management, I developed advanced skills and connections that I will continue to use through college and beyond. This past year, I was an A-B Honor Roll student and received the Top Project Award for my AWED (Another Way to Educate and Demonstrate) project. As a member of the Crosby Scholars program since 2012, I have participated in many community service projects across a diverse group of non-profit organizations. My dream is to attend either the University of Michigan or UNC Charlotte where I would major in Industrial or Architectural Engineering. I dream about being an entrepreneur and starting my own engineering business.”

Chamber President and CEO Mark Owens praises the Career Academy internship program, saying “as a former intern myself, I know how valuable it is to gain on-the-job experience at a company in a career path that you aspire to. The Career Academy program here in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has achieved national accolades for providing exceptional learning experiences that are truly preparing students to be the next generation of an incredibly talented local workforce. Our team is lucky to have Desmond with us this summer to provide valuable input to our Education team and to our organization as a whole.”

Companies who are interested in hiring a Career Academy intern still have time to participate—students must complete their 120 hours prior to graduation. To learn more contact Rodessa Mitchell at 336-728-9222 or