Adults, when we’re fumbling to find a small-talk topic with a teenager, often fall back on the old standard: “So, what do you want to do (or study) after high school?”
It’s a subject that isn’t always easy to answer. As teens begin to realize the breadth of career possibilities available to them, they can struggle with learning how a particular field lines up with their interests or what skills and training or education would be required.
Internships can offer hands-on experience, but finding those opportunities can be difficult and — in spite of good intentions — the internships can devolve into the busy work of running errands, filing papers and fetching coffee.
A new partnership between the Everett School District and the City of Everett — Everett Career Link — is looking to pair local employers with Everett high school juniors and seniors in internships that provide career-connected experience to the students as they explore their interests and prepare plans for the future.
Announced by Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin last month during her State of the City address, Career Link is building on the school district’s own internship program that placed students interested in education careers in its summer school programs, said Dana Riley Black, who oversees STEM learning, partnerships and legislation for the district.
With intentions to offer 50 90-hour internships this summer, the program is seeking out both students and local employers, large and small, interested in participating.
Along with offering the school district’s internships in education as well as with its information technology staff, the city is preparing internships in IT, public works, engineering, communication and marketing and its parks department, said Deputy Mayor Nick Harper. And with assistance from consultant Shannon Affholter, the effort is working with local employers to offer internships in the fields of medical careers and health care, aerospace and advanced manufacturing, construction and skilled trades and more.
The school district is providing employers with training and guidance in setting up the internships and matching students to interships, paperwork regarding state Labor and Industries compliance and liability and ongoing support during the internships.
While it’s at the employer’s discretion to offer interns a stipend, the program is intended as an outgrowth of the classroom; students — for their 90 hours of participation — will earn half of the Career and Technical Education credit they need toward their high school graduation requirement.
The internships are intended as learning experiences, Riley Black said, with time spent job-shadowing with employees and participating in appropriate hands-on tasks and answering questions about the education and training that particular fields require.
Students interested in program have to be 16 as of the first day of the internship, show commitment and have to volunteer on their own and not their parents’ insistence. But high academic performance isn’t a requirement, and the program is specifically looking for students with B and C grade averages.
More than the students benefit. The time spent with local students can help employers develop deeper ties in the community, get a better understanding of the work underway in schools and appreciation for the pool of talent that exists in their own community.
We’ve repeated the forecast often, first made by Washington Roundtable, that employers in Washington state expect some 740,000 new jobs to be available by 2021. And nearly 80 percent of those jobs will be either career jobs that require a college degree or career-pathway jobs that require at least some level of post-high school training and certification.
As students begin to make their post-high school plans, they need a better grasp of the careers that might interest them and what those careers will require.
An internship can offer a student a valuable introduction to potential careers and to the people in those fields, connections that are available in their own hometowns.
Everett Career Link is accepting applications from local employers and students interested in the internship program through March 31, with internships expected to begin in July.
Employers can go to tinyurl.com/EvCareerLinkBiz or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students can go to tinyurl.com/EvCareerLinkStudent or email email@example.com.