GREENFIELD — Hands-on work experience while in high school just might help students make better decisions about what kind of work they might like to do once they graduate. That’s the idea behind a partnership between officials with Eastern Hancock High School (EHHS) and Hitachi Astemo.

The Greenfield business is providing EHHS students with real-life, hands-on learning to help give the students every opportunity to figure out what type of professional they might want to be. Hitachi Astemo is a manufacturer and supplier of top-of-the-line consumer electronics that also creates audiovisual, home improvement, and automotive systems products.

Eastern Hancock seniors Gretchen Combs and Rose Rosales are both going through an internship with Hitachi Astemo and say the hands-on learning experience has been great.

“I picked up one of their intern flyers and read it and thought, ‘This sounds like something I want to do,’” Gretchen said. “I came in here, and it’s probably the best experience of my life because I definitely found what I want to do.”

Gretchen and Rose both got a chance to see all the different aspects of the business including quality control and inventory control, which they both enjoy doing.

“I’m working right now in a place where I’m receiving packages in and counting parts and all of that kind of stuff,” Gretchen said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Gretchen hopes there is a chance she might be hired by the company at the end of the internship when she finishes high school. As for Rose, she was looking to gain some experience on how a business operates.

“I got involved in this because I heard from the seniors at our school who did this year, that they really liked it and I wanted to try something new,” Rose said.

While she plans to go to Ball State University next year and study interior design, the internship has been rewarding.

“I just wanted to check it out and see and get the chance to do multiple things throughout the year,” Rose said. “It’s been so worth it because I’ve learned so much, so many different techniques and it’s made me be more comfortable to be around people and to be a lot more social.”

Both the students say taking part in a real business internship has been in many ways one of their best educational experiences.

“We’re doing this all school year,” Gretchen said. “We’re making very good connections.”

Diana Arellano, agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America sponsor, said the partnership with Hitachi Astemo, which pays the students for their internship work, is one of 35 different partnerships with businesses throughout the county and beyond providing students opportunities.

“We’re pretty excited about the opportunities at Hitachi Astemo,” Arellano said.

Arellano noted they had one or two students try an internship at the company last year, and at the beginning of this year four more students signed up. This semester, they added two more for a total of six students this school year.

“They absolutely get paid,” Arellano said. “One of the best parts of my job is when I see a kid’s face light up when I tell them they can get real work experience and, on top of that, they get a competitive wage for their work and school credit.”

Officials with Hitachi Astemo have created a rotation type of learning experience that allows a student to see everything from the production line to the IT and HR departments.

“The students get to spend a total of nine weeks in those areas and get a full picture of what opportunities and careers are embedded in a facility like that,” Arellano said.

Arellano and other educators at EHHS believe it’s time for a different kind of school for students and are thankful to the businesses in and around the county who have developed work partnerships for their students.

Eastern Hancock district officials are holding a “Community Leaders and Employee Partners” meeting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Thrive Center to develop even more partnerships for students.

Officials with Hitachi Astemo note that, in addition to bringing students in from EHHS these past two years, they’ve signed on with the other county schools and plan to offer those students internship opportunities as soon as next year.