Businesses owe students internship experiences

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” The pressure starts at a young age for students to know their future career. Student interests and strengths are identified early on, but beyond that, how do students identify the career path where they will thrive and feel fulfilled?

Internships long have been under-utilized as a resource for high school students and are the best mechanism for actual career experience to guide students in their futures.

Student internships have numerous and expansive benefits. Students can explore their career interests and experience an actual application of their skills in the workforce.

The internship experience can motivate interest in a student’s relevant school subjects and activities. Students also receive personal validation when they contribute to the organization. In many cases, they receive an additional positive role model in their life.

There are many advantages for the businesses and community to have an intern as well. One of the biggest advantages is that it can help build their workforce, as many internships can lead to future employment.

Personally, I was fortunate that my internship in college led to employment in my field of study immediately after graduating from college. Businesses gain short-term, free or inexpensive employees that they can groom to meet their expectations.

The Indiana Department of Education is supporting the internship initiative as well. They created an internship manual to “serve as a guide for schools to build successful internship programs that enhance students’ educational experiences.”

The Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate that Mt. Vernon High School offers to its seniors will help develop the soft skills needed to be successful in the workforce. The program has several criteria that must be met by the student, with staff signing off on each standard.

The 10 criteria that must be met were established by employers and educators and are based upon attendance, community service, student grades, organization, punctuality, respectfulness and teamwork. These skills will help build students’ capacity for a successful workforce experience as an intern or as an employee.

Mt. Vernon High School offers students the flexibility to work in the community through the Indiana College and Careers Pathways program. Vocational schooling, a course titled Preparing for College and Careers, and the Interdisciplinary Cooperative Education (ICE) program are a few ways students can experience careers.

Currently, several students are receiving hands-on field experience as a cadet teacher in the Mini-Marauder Pre-school, as a technology intern or as a community relations intern.

Mt. Vernon High School also offers College and Career Pathways for students to receive an Ivy Tech credential (30 hours) or an Associate’s Degree (60 hours) in their field of study. This opportunity includes vocational training as well as a specific course pathway at Mt. Vernon.

The numerous opportunities span a variety of fields: health science, business/marketing, manufacturing, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics,) and informational technology. The practical experiences in these courses help prepare students for internships.

Mt. Vernon High School also is focused on developing an internship program this year with businesses identified who will offer exceptional work experiences for students, thus creating a win-win relationship for all.

Let’s continue to support and build career experiences for students and benefit the futures of both students and businesses in the community. Students are the lifeline of our community’s future.

Maria Bond serves as the director of communications for Mt. Vernon Community School Corp.