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Project SEARCH in Kern County an Internship with Impact

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An Internship with Impact for those with Disabilities and Disadvantages

PathPoint of Kern County is proud to offer an innovative internship program to individuals with disabilities and disadvantages in the Bakersfield Area. The internship is called Project SEARCH and is held through a collaboration with Dignity Health Mercy Hospital Downtown. Project SEARCH is a competitive yearlong internship program that allows individuals to gain employment experience, serve on hospital rotations, acquire business connections and attend career development classes.

Shawn White, Director of Program Services for PathPoint in Kern County shared “It’s a unique experience to intern with Project SEARCH - an opportunity that is not offered anywhere else. If you have the chance to apply, it’s an opportunity you will never forget.”

Alongside the rotations, PathPoint provides weekly curriculum based classes lead by staff which equip the interns with skills for their internship and career. The interns learn integrative resources that they can take with them into the future career of their choice. Whether learning how to write a resume, acquiring good customer service skills, or understanding how to work positively through conflict, the program enables interns an ability to gain levels of competence and proficiency in a real world setting!

Elisa Garcia, PathPoint Program Coordinator for Project SEARCH shared of her passion for the program saying “We have a great partnership. The hospital staff have been very inviting - they have accepted us. They don’t see the disability. It’s been a very good experience and hopefully our partnership just keeps growing.”

The impact of this training and yearlong program on an individual’s life is monumental. Intern alumni Gerard communicated his love for the program, stating “It gives me tons of opportunities in my life. I am learning and doing things to better pursue my goals in my life.”

Gerard continued “I believe that Project SEARCH can really help us. I really feel like I am ready for the workforce now. [This opportunity] taught me what to do and say in the workplace. I am seeing [this experience] as an opportunity to move forward.”

Like Gerard, many interns leave this program ready to face the workforce equipped, experienced and connected. Sherry, another participant, praised the program saying “They [PathPoint] helped me find a job that I love – I care for the program and people here are like family. I want to work here permanently.”

For many interns, Project SEARCH allows growth and promotion. Often the employer-partner, seeing the quality and dedication of an individual’s work will offer some career opportunities and employment at the end of the internship.

Maria Reyes, PathPoint staff, commends Dignity Healthy for their inclusive involvement and partnership saying “They see and treat you like you are a part of the hospital, so I really love that.” Maria also shared her love for training the Project SEARCH interns “I am teaching them how to build a resume and how to act and how to dress for an interview.”

These rotations, classes and opportunities provide these interns with invaluable tools to reach for a career that they might not have otherwise obtained.

For interns who find employment, many articulate the gratitude for this internship – some sharing of the confidence it instilled, the skills they acquired and the opportunity to connect in their community.

Timothy, another Project SEARCH intern shared “It’s a good experience, you feel good about the work you do. The staff treat you like you are a part of the hospital.”

Reyes concluded saying “the feeling you get at the end of the day, it’s something I cannot express in words. Knowing that you are changing someone’s life, it’s the biggest reward.”

If you’d like to learn more about PathPoint join us for our Open House on:

Thursday May 26th from 5:30pm-7:00pm at

4701 Stockdale Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93309

To learn more about Project SEARCH, please join our Project SEARCH Open House at:

Dignity Health Mercy Hospital Downtown on Friday, June 10th from 11:00am-1:00pm

2215 Truxton Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301