Invest in internships

Students participate in career opportunities while still in high school

Senior, Shiloh Justice takes care of a dog for her veterinarian internship.

Photo Courtesy of Shiloh Justice

Senior, Shiloh Justice takes care of a dog for her veterinarian internship.

Internships are a big part of Wakefield and Wake County schools as a whole. They are a way for students to participate in jobs they are interested in. It gives them hands-on experiences of working in that field. These internships also reflect highly upon them in the long run when applying to colleges and universities. Internships help students realize their career path, be that in their specific internship or in the realization that this job is not for them.There are many students who have had internships in a variety of businesses during their junior or senior year as a replacement for their fourth period.

Having an internship is very much like having a job in the sense that students have to find a willing business and reach out to them themselves. Wakefield does have businesses that they would recommend, but communication and execution of the internship is left up to the student.

“I have placed students when I first started this role and they didn’t take it very seriously. That is a bad reflection on me and the school,” Career Development Coordinator and Internship Supervisor Sarah Joyner said.

Ownership and responsibility are some of the first lessons learned and they serve as a sign to Joyner that the student is not only dedicated and motivated but also trustworthy when leaving campus and representing Wakefield at local businesses.

Senior Lee Ostadi took part in an internship at a local physical therapy office. Ostadi went in thinking being a PT would be an exciting place but it ended up not being what he expected.

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hitchins
Senior, Rebecca Hitchins practices stretches for her internship at OSNC Physical Therapy.

“I wanted to be a doctor, so I thought that physical therapy would be a good start; but now after I have done my internship I know that I don’t want to be a doctor,” Ostadi said.

Ostadi did say he got a lot of hands-on experience and that it added to his high school experience. Internships prove to be a great way to try out potential careers so that students are better equipped to make decisions about their future. They can illuminate or completely change one’s path of employment.

“To me and to them [the student] it is still a win because now you are not going to go into college and major in something that you don’t want to do for the rest of your life,” said Joyner.

According to the Washington Post, only 27% of college graduates have jobs related to their degrees. An internship can increase that number by giving the student hands-on experience, skills, and connections.

Senior Emma Wallace describes her internship with BioGen Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company during the summer as somewhat of a transition.

“It was more advanced than a high school lab and you definitely had to know what you were doing but at the same time, if you made a mistake there were safeguards in place,” Wallace said.  “They didn’t just completely leave you on your own but they had high expectations for everyone there.”

An internship is akin to an introduction to the working world. With that comes the accountability and reliability of the student with the internship but the flexibility to make mistakes and learn from them. Wallace’s experience made her more passionate for what she want to pursue in the future.

There are students who love their internships and others who decide it wasn’t for them, but there are also those who get a more refined and polished look at what they want to career they want . Much like senior Laura Oakley who interned at Wakefield Elementary School.

“During junior year I said I wanted to be a teacher, but now I have a less naive understanding of what it really takes to teach. I definitely see myself doing it in the future and now I know that I want to teach elementary school level because of my internship,” Oakley said.

Internships here at Wakefield are not just a free period but another place to learn and grow. No matter what your interest is, there is always a place where you can lean life skills for the future, be that an internship here or in college. Mrs. Joyner sums up perfectly why internships are a great opportunity for anyone.

“For those who participate, I think they leave here with a better understanding of what they want to do once they get to college,”  Joyner said.  “I wish that every single student had one, but I definitely think that they have made positive impacts on those students take part in the program.”