Our Islands, Our Future

Da Kitchen part-owner Mariah Brown said her restaurant continues to thrive after partnering this summer on a STEMworks™ internship. “At first I just wasn’t sure about it,” Brown said. But since then, interns Renezel Lagran and Justin Jackson have proven to be “extremely helpful. They’re very talented and they’ve helped us to keep trendy and updated.”

The Women in Technology Project, a statewide workforce initiative at Maui Economic Development Board, placed about 30 students in a variety of six-week internships throughout the state. The STEMworks™ program provides students with access to high-tech tools, software training, project design, career exposure and internship opportunities to learn from mentors and gain the real-world job experience, knowledge and skills they’ll need when they join the 21st century workforce. The internship at Da Kitchen was unique in that the students worked for a restaurant, instead of a high-tech company. Still, they got a lot of practice with using high-tech technology in updating menus, logos, charity event posters and social media sites. “Da Kitchen is all about changing with the times. We like to work with the interns on keeping our look modern,” Brown said. “Our society and our business is very social media oriented,” Brown said. “We have to keep up with graphics, with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.”

Lagran, a sophomore at Maui High School, called the STEMworks™ internship “one of the greatest experiences she’s ever had.” She said she helped to update restaurant menus, advertising pieces and business cards. As a result, Lagran said she’s built confidence in her work skills and has learned “that I’m able to do a lot of things if I put my mind to it.” She’s also discovered what she’d like to do after high school graduation. “I am determined to find myself a role in the marketing field whether it’s designing or even the mathematics aspect of it since I do like math.”