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Local High School Students' Internship Experience through Bank of America Student Leaders Program

Bank of America Interns

September 10, 2021

As we continue to push the need to advance racial equality and economic opportunity in our country, we remain committed to supporting our youth and young adults by connecting them to jobs, skill-building and leadership development opportunities. This year, Bank of America is especially proud to highlight our Greater Des Moines (DSM) Student Leaders (#BofAStudentLeaders) and the work these young adults accomplished in partnership with Urban Dreams and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa.

Investing in Future DSM Leaders

Investing in the region’s youth is key as they are the future leaders of tomorrow. A way to invest is supporting their positive development by supplying opportunities from reputable organizations that play a role in shaping future employees and leaders in our community, career exploration, community engagement and self-directed service-learning opportunities.

While recognizing that early employment leads to success later in life, gaining experience by building a resume and professional networks — young people can improve academic performance, strengthen their understanding of teamwork, have a work ethic and develop critical communication skills. Not to mention, the ability to earn a paycheck was essential during the summer to many young people, whether they were helping to support their families or planning for their future. As part of their Student Leaders experience, each student received a $5,000 stipend to recognize them for their community achievements.

Student Leader Stats

In 2021, we connected approximately 4,300 young adults from across the country to summer jobs through partnerships with nonprofits, local mayors and our own Student Leaders program. Since 2015, Bank of America has invested nearly $30 million to support nearly 10,000 summer jobs for young people, including at-risk youth from low-income families in more than 90 communities.

Summer 2021 Student Leaders

Two Iowa students participated in this year’s Student Leaders program: Pahola Velez, a rising senior at Des Moines Roosevelt High School, and Estherine Ninkunda, a graduate from Des Moines North High School. Bank of America’s eight-week Student Leaders program consisted of Estherine and Pahola working closely with local nonprofits Urban Dreams and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa, developing leadership and workforce skills and participating in a week-long virtual leadership summit.

 Pahola Velez Headshot  Estherine Ninkunda Headshot

For Pahola, her favorite part of working with Urban Dreams was the ability to work outside of her normal environment and witness issues within her community that are often overlooked, while also being able to pitch in and help to solve them. For Estherine, her favorite part of working at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Iowa was being able to talk to important leaders of the community while learning from them.

Building on a Successful Internship Program

We continue to build upon our Bank of America Student Leaders program, which this year recognized 300 high school students for their community commitment with a focus on civic engagement, mentoring, leadership skills and building financial knowledge. Student Leaders gained insight from local and national nonprofit leaders who helped develop their professional skill sets.

Through our summer youth employment initiatives, we helped youth and young adults gain a better understanding of personal finances through Better Money Habits®, our financial wellness and education platform. These tools will help impact the lives and careers of these students for years to come and give them the necessary knowledge to start on the right track of financial soundness.

Bank of America’s Student Leaders program has been committed to youth employment and economic mobility since 2004. Applications for our summer 2022 program will open in November 2021 and close either end of January 2022 or earlier February 2022. Please check the Bank of America Student Leaders site for more details.

I am so proud of our Des Moines Student Leaders and the work they have completed over the course of their internship. Their participation in this program offered them many new experiences and opportunities as they developed great foundational professional skills that they will carry with them into many future roles. I am excited to see what these remarkable young people do next and how they decide to serve their communities in the future.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Annie Brandt

Annie Brandt is a senior vice president and market manager for Bank of America. She works in partnership with the market president and market integration executive to help lead local market goals of connecting businesses, families and individuals to banking and investment teams that help improve their financial lives.