Students Earn Real-World Experience Through Opportunity Now

More than 2,000 Nashville students are walking a new set of hallways, ones without lockers, while participating in the Opportunity NOW initiative launched by Mayor Megan Barry to help connect young people to jobs and internships at area businesses and nonprofits.

Instead of hanging out with friends and watching TV this summer, four local high schoolers are gaining real-world experience at Nashville Electric Service (NES) as they complete internships in various departments including Meter, Budget & Rates, Human Resources and Engineering.

The initiative was born out of discussions to address youth violence by connecting young people to opportunity and hope. Opportunity NOW offers an online portal where students can search for jobs that are tailored for teenagers without being limited to a fast-food restaurant or grocery store job.

We had a chance to sit down with our interns to get to know them better and get feedback on their summer spent at NES.

Aliya Simmons, a recent graduate of Nashville School of the Arts, says she likes this internship because the experience will give her a leg up when she’s competing with others for future job openings.

NES: What are your plans after the internship ends?
Aliya: I’m attending Tennessee State University in the fall and plan to major in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources.

NES: What is your favorite food?
Aliya: Homemade macaroni and cheese

NES: How has your high school coursework helped you as an intern?
Aliya: In working with Compensation & Benefits, I was able to compute calculations using equations that I learned in pre-calculus. It made it easy.

NES: How did you find out about the program?
Aliya: My mom works as a counselor for Metro Nashville Public Schools and heard about it. I was able to choose between NES and Comcast.

NES: What do you think is the most common misperception of your generation?
Aliya: That we are all about social media and that we think things should just be given to us.

Monte Catlepp, a junior at East Nashville Magnet High School, wants to pursue a career in engineering.

NES: Have you worked prior to this internship?
Monte: I worked at Journeys, a lawn care service with my uncle and a cleaning service with my dad.

NES: What skills do you possess that you feel are an asset to NES?
Monte: I am friendly, helpful and I know how to use basic knowledge. I would be good with customers.

NES: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat?
Monte: No social media

NES: What is your favorite TV show?
Monte: Animal Planet

Gerard Dement, sophomore at KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School, is stationed in the NES Meter department.

NES: Are you active in extracurricular activities?
Gerard: I’m in the comedy club at school and I played trombone one year in band.

NES: What do you think is the most common misperception of your generation?
Gerard: That we’re lazy.

NES: What skills do you possess that you feel are an asset to NES?
Gerard: Safety management and customer service. I like talking to people.

NES: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat?
Gerard: Instagram

NES Who is your favorite comedian?
Gerard: Dave Chappelle

Erik Dawson, Jr. attends Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School and is passionate about music.

NES: What do you like about the internship?
Erik: It’s interactive, laid-back and I’m learning a lot.

NES: How did you find out about the program?
Erik: I was volunteering as an ambassador for Opportunity NOW. I helped other students set up profiles on the website and walked them through the process. Then I thought, I should do it!

NES: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat?
Erik: Facebook. I want to be a rapper and Facebook is the best way to market to all ages and people.

NES: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Erik: A graduate of Clark-Atlanta with a degree in Mass Communications or Public Relations and headed to a graduate program.

To learn more about Opportunity NOW, visit