The SOAR Internship Program allowed eight interns to shadow employees at Angel City FC (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The main goal of the Angel City Football Club is to make an impact in the community. While competing during their 2023 season, they launched the SOAR Internship Program for female high school students and recent graduates throughout Los Angeles. The internship was conducted in partnership with the shoe company Birdies.

“It’s so important to our company founded by women lifting us up to be able to do that for the next generation,” said Birdies co-founder Marisa Sharkey. “These women are stars, we’ve already seen their amazing questions, their amazing curiosity, their confidence and they will definitely go places.”

The interns engaged in a six-week program where they shadowed eight different salaried positions in the ACFC front office. SOAR benefited eight students in its inaugural year. They engaged in panels and workshops, learning about several topics including entrepreneurship, public speaking, leadership, and teamwork.

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Jackson Gastelo, 16, praised the community that she built among the interns. She shadowed the ACFC ticketing and analytics department.

“We do a lot of presentations and it’s really just to build our confidence and being able to assert ourselves in the workplace,” Gastelo said. “Being able to feel comfortable communicating my ideas and collaborating with people that I haven’t known before is really reassuring to me.”

The interns participated in projects at both Birdies and the ACFC, they also were exposed to executives and employees at both organizations.

Recent View Park graduate Kaitlin Lewis shadowed the ACFC marketing department. One thing she learned is that there is no set process to becoming successful.

“I’m from South Central and a lot of the young girls here, we don’t get opportunities like this that often,” Lewis said. “It’s really important that they’re doing this to allow us to see more of the city that we live in and that there are opportunities for us out there.”

Other interns shadowed their partnership sales, commerce, community, and partnership marketing departments.

“The employees that work at the headquarters really helped welcome us in,” said Annaly Sanchez,17, who shadowed the ACFC public relations department. “It’s really nice to work with them knowing they support us and have our backs throughout everything.”

At the conclusion of the internship, each intern received a $3,000 scholarship. Both ACFC and Birdies allotted 10 percent of Birdies’ sponsorship value to go into community outreach.

Birdies co-founder Bianca Gates noted how she was inspired by the mission of ACFC founder and president Julie Uhrman.

“As a sponsor, it’s very important to her that 10 percent of the sponsorship dollars would go back to the community in a way that we both saw fit,” Gates said. “For us that was very much about empowering and lifting up young women in the community.”