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GSK Internships Let High School “Rising Stars” Shine

‘Success Stories in Action’ spotlights success stories working toward solutions to pressing workforce challenges, as part of the NC Chamber Foundation’s Institute for Workforce Competitiveness.

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In the heart of the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, you can see a rising star.

Several, in fact. If you know where to look.

“It’s a privilege for us to be a part of this,” said Brian McGhee, GSK’s Workplace and Facilities Lead for North America. He oversees GSK’s involvement with the Rising Stars program.

Rising Stars is a summer internship program for rising juniors and seniors in Durham Public Schools.

“Just having the opportunity to be able to create these programs for students and give back to the community in this way, it means more to me than I can even explain,” said Jameya Jones with Durham Public Schools (DPS).

Jones is the Workforce Development Coordinator with DPS. She created and oversees the program.

“It allows students to get hands-on experience dealing with situations in the workforce that others might not have had the experience of doing if they don’t participate in the program,” said Jones. “So, they get a taste of real life while they are in high school.”

Fourteen employers, including GSK, participated in this summer’s program.

“Us bringing in those young minds, they’ve got a different perspective,” said McGhee. “They’ve got a whole other set of skills. They brought new energy into our workplace.”

The Rising Stars program started in Summer 2022 with 22 interns. This year, that number more than doubled to 48.

“I think the students are talking,” said Jones. “They’re sharing with their friends about the experience, the opportunity that they had. They like, ‘hey, you know, you need to apply for Rising Stars.’”

Students must work 120 hours on site with their designated employer. They also participate in professional development training with Dale Carnegie and must do internship coursework which gives them high school course credit.

“Their eyes were certainly opened,” said McGhee. “They didn’t know what it took to make the place work; so, they got to see that. And that’s not something that everybody is going to see on an everyday basis.”

He added that the students who take part in the Rising Stars program benefit greatly from the experience.

“Their futures are impacted in a positive way,” said McGhee. “It helped us certainly to be able to engage with their young minds and what they brought into the workplace from their perspective with their experiences and their skills.”

McGhee said that the Rising Stars program is set up to prepare any interested employers to host interns – its turnkey for employers.

“It is a very commendable program in that the kids come in engaged and ready to work and learn and provide their ideas with us,” he said.

Jones said any employers interested in becoming part of the Rising Stars program can email

She added that the Rising Stars program is also unique in that it enables the students to create their first professional portfolio.

“They’ll believe in themselves and once they graduate from high school, they can have a career here, as well,” she said. “It makes them feel like we believe in them, and they have a sense of ownership in their future.”

It’s a future that, for these rising stars, is very bright.

This profile was a collaboration with the NC Chamber Foundation as it works to spotlight solutions for current workforce challenges: how businesses are building talent pipelines, collaborating with educators to close skills gaps, and strategically planning for workforce needs. GSK is an NC Chamber Cornerstone member. Read more Success Stories in Action here.