Leesburg, VA, June 2018
– For the second year in a row, The National Conference Center
partnered with Loudoun County Public Schools and Didlake®
to host Project SEARCH. The National is the first hospitality organization to partner with the program and will graduate ten interns this 2017-2018 academic school year. Two of the ten Project Search participants have been offered jobs at The National in the Guest Dining and Events Departments.
Graduation for the ten interns, ages 18 to 22, will be held on Monday, June 11 at 12:30 p.m. at The National
. Family, teachers, friends, community leaders and local school administrators are invited to celebrate with the graduates.
Project SEARCH, a national high school transition program for students with intellectual delays, is a total workplace immersion program combining classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training through strategically designed internships. It includes long-term job coaching and continuous feedback from teachers and employers. The ten interns placed at The National learned time management, social interaction, and a variety of stockroom, culinary and housekeeping skills.
“This is an excellent program to help young adults transition from home and school to being in the real world,” says Emily Meyers, Didlake Employment Specialist. Project Search, which is funded by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, began in Virginia during the 2009-2010 academic school year. Since then, more than 700 students across the Commonwealth have gained valuable work experience and skills through their internships.
When Loudoun County Schools came to meet with Geoff Lawson two years ago, vice president and general manager at The National, along with his executive team, there was no question in his mind that this was a program he wanted to host at The National. “Our entire team at The National Conference Center and West Belmont Place were happy to take on this program again this year. This program not only helped the interns, but our staff learned from the program too. They showed compassion and mentoring skills to these young future hospitality professions,” says Geoff Lawson. “We placed our interns in a variety of departments, including Culinary, Housekeeping, Audio Visual, Grounds and Event Services.”
The National’s team took time to help the interns understand and grasp their business and the conference center’s customers as they look to become part of the next generation of meeting support professionals. The National Conference Center employs over 200 people and also works with the local Riverside High School in Loudoun County, training youth in all hospitality functions.
To learn more about Project Search, check out this video
– a visual explanation of the program.