Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold, partnered with more than a dozen local businesses once again this summer to support, mentor and encourage teenage girls as they are exposed to the workplace for the first time.

Through the organization’s Eureka! Program, the teens were paired with businesses throughout Santa Barbara County and offered an externship in their field of interest. Following a week of training, the young women worked approximately 80 hours over four weeks in July, immersing themselves in hands-on career readiness. 

Eureka! is a five-year, college-bound program that breaks gender stereotypes by encouraging girls to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Through engaging, hands-on activities, girls are able to discover and explore different career paths. Eureka! also includes fitness, nutrition and personal development activities that encourage girls to be healthy, strong, and self-confident. In the third year of the program, Eurekans shift their programming to the workplace. 
“Our goal is to help provide young women with the support they need so they can grow and develop as leaders, not only in the classroom but also in the workplace,” said Victoria Juarez, executive director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. “These experiential work opportunities offer our girls first-hand experience in industries they are interested in — many of which are underrepresented by women — where they gain skills for success. Thanks to our local businesses mentoring our future leaders, these young women complete the externship feeling more passionate than ever about college and their future careers.”

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria launched its five-year Eureka! program in 2012 to provide leadership and education enhancement opportunities for teen girls, beginning the summer before their eighth grade year up through the end of high school.

In addition to a four-week component at UCSB during the summer, the program includes follow-up workshops throughout the year and college campus visits to universities such as UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley, Pepperdine University and Long Beach State. 

Girls Inc. launched the summer externship last year for its third-year participants, and the results proved successful for both the externs and the local businesses. 

“I learned how to schedule time for work and school, and I grew personally because I learned how to be more responsible,” said Girls Inc. member Anna Artiaga, 15, who completed her externship with Genuine Chiropractics. Anna is interested in a career in sports medicine and engineering.

“The experience made me feel more professional and independent,” said member Leslie Varela, 15. Leslie worked with TV Santa Barbara for her externship, where she was introduced to media equipment, cameras and new computer software. She hopes to pursue a career as a journalist or in animation. 

Eureka! is a partnership between Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, UCSB’s Early Academic Outreach Program and Easy Lift Transportation.

For more information about the Eureka! program or to become a volunteer, please visit or contact Jessica Wetzel at 805.684.6364.

— Daniella Alkobi is a publicist representing Girls Inc. of Carpinteria.