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INTERNSHIP PROGRAM FOR MINORITIES BRINGS CONFIDENCE, WISDOM, HOPE.

Byline: Lisa M. Sodders Staff Writer

Like many college students, Nicole Boone knows an internship can help when trying to land that first post-college job.

But when Boone, 20, of Los Angeles graduates next year from the University of California, Los Angeles, she will have three summers of professional internships on her resume, thanks to a company called Inroads.

``It's made me more confident in the decisions I make,'' Boone said. ``I'm going to find the job that's right for me, and not just what's available.''

Inroads is an international nonprofit organization that places minority high school and college students in paid internships while also providing leadership training.

Inroads was founded in 1970; Inroads/Southern California began in 1985 and currently has about 261 interns employed by 62 companies, including such companies as Allergan, Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, Deloitte & Touche, Frito-Lay and Kaiser Permanente, said Hector LaFarga Jr., managing director with Inroads/Southern California.

``They're developing homegrown talent within their community,'' LaFarga said. ``Students are preparing two to three years and then they hit the ground running and are productive employees for the corporation they work for.''

Many of the graduating interns end up working for their sponsoring companies once they complete their college degrees. Blue Shield, which has been working with Inroads for the past eight years, has hired a former intern for a full-time position in each of the past three years, said Joanne Hanlon, communication specialist for Blue Shield.

``It's hard to find talented people,'' and Inroads interns come pre- screened, Hanlon said. ``The fresh perspective the interns bring is priceless.''

``She brought a fresh and objective perspective to our team,'' agreed Alan Percy, manager of Health/Wellness Education for Blue Shield and Boone's supervisor.

Kwame Jackson, the runner-up in the first season of Donald Trump's reality show, ``The Apprentice,'' was an Inroads intern early in his career, and spoke to more than 700 interns in July, including Boone.

The internships are more than just filing and fetching coffee for executives. Boone, an economics major, spent two summers working for Robinsons-May in the company's buyer training program. Her internship this summer was with Blue Shield, where her duties included developing an e-mail and script library for the company's call-in wellness programs for seniors.

Prior to her internships, Boone said, she tended to do her assignments thoroughly, but now she says she looks for ways to go beyond what's assigned.

``I definitely take more initiative now,'' Boone said. ``I was always on the ball, but now I'm in control of the ball.''

Lisa M. Sodders, (818) 713-3663

lisa.sodders(at)dailynews.com

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Photo:

(color) Nicole Boone, 20, an economics major at UCLA, sits in her office at Blue Shield in Woodland Hills, where she is an intern thanks to a nonprofit organization called Inroads.

David Sprague/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 15, 2004
Words:473
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