ORLANDO, Fla. -- It's an opportunity that otherwise would be hard to find for kids in foster care: to get their foot in the door in the workforce.

  • Pilot program pairs foster teens with Central Florida businesses
  • Foster teens enter the workforce through internships
  • Business owner from Puerto Rico benefits from local intern

A new pilot program run by CareerSource Central Florida does just that, placing foster teens in paid internships at local companies.

Currently, the program has 17 foster teens at local businesses. Samantha Zuccarello is one of those teens interning at a rental company, AMB Rentals.

"I was told I was going to work for an event planner, and I was so happy,” said Zuccarello with a huge smile.

She's only been at the company for two weeks but said she's learned so much already.

"Lately, I've been learning how people sit, what they use, where the wine glasses and the cup glasses go on a table," Zuccarello said.

The owner of the rental company, Carlos Manuel Barrio, didn't think twice about accepting Zuccarello in his company.

It's a new experience for both. It's the first time Barrio opened shop in Florida and moved his family from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

"This is a family-owned company, so we have to open the business to our community," said Barrio, who had been planning to expand to Central Florida for a while.

'"Hurricane Maria just push it and accelerated the process," he laughed.

For Barrio, giving Zuccarello this opportunity became very special.  

"She's creating more value for me. The experience of life that she has is something that we don't normally go through, and we have to start thinking differently," Barrio said.

He wanted his company to give the support Zuccarello never had as a child, helping her to not become a statistic -- something Zuccarelo said she's been doing her whole life.

"I want to move forward, I want to do good for myself," she said.

For the high school senior with big dreams, this program turned out to be the perfect place to start.

"I feel like this internship is a step closer to me reaching my goals in my future," Zuccarello said.