Anne Gill, president and CEO of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce on Monday, June 17, 2013.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

Students and businesses are getting a unique opportunity to connect as the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce and the Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) have formed a partnership to pair students with internships, job shadowing and career exploration opportunities in the local economy.

TUHSD has some programs that require internships but school leaders say they were getting requests from students for not only internships, but more job exploration opportunities.

“At the beginning of each school year we go out to each school and ask them how we can help and what their goals and needs are each year,” said Dianne Welling, the district’s coordinator for business partnerships and grant writer. “Desert Vista has told us they have a lot of kids that need or want job shadowing opportunities. That’s one of the things that inspired us to figure out a way to get it going. The chamber is the perfect partner to get that going with, starting in our small community.”

Welling said they’ve seen similar partnerships in other cities and decided to approach the chamber with the idea. The response from the chamber board was positive.

“I think this is a better way we can invest in the future and our community,” said Anne Gill, president and CEO of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce. “Education is a vital part of any community and we have great schools here. I think just promoting the relationships between the businesses and the schools, I think it will help businesses be aware of some of the resources that are available to them through the kids here in the schools.”

The chamber is hosting a breakfast on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 a.m. at Mountain Park Senior Living, 4475 E. Knox Road, to let businesses know more about this partnership. Specifically the chamber is looking for business owners who would be willing to hire interns for a semester, invite students in to their business for job shadowing, speak to a group of students about their job responsibilities, or tutor a student.

“It is beneficial for businesses because they are able to look at what the students have to offer and also help us as a school district,” Welling said. “They can see that the students coming out of our school district are ready for the work force. It’s really good for these businesses to know the quality of students out there. It’s also very inspirational for them too to see they are helping someone.”

The chamber and the school district hope to get these connections between businesses and students going as quickly as businesses and students would like. Welling said National Job Shadowing Day is Feb. 3 and the district would like to see as many students as possible participating in job shadowing on that day.

For more information on the partnership or to attend the breakfast, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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