In their high school careers, many Palo Alto High School students may ponder the possibility of participating in an internship, and for good reason. Internships, whether during summer break or the school year, allow for students to gain hands-on experience in any field they choose. Students learn necessary “soft skills” in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication and problem-solving, which are hard to learn inside the traditional classroom. Furthermore, students can use internships as an opportunity to narrow down what major or career they might pursue in the future, as well as expand their professional network. Because internships provide high school students with so much valuable knowledge and experience, The Campanile strongly believes that the College and Career Center (CCC) should place a larger focus on publicizing and connecting students with internship opportunities.
Many students who have connections or independently sought opportunities in the past have completed internships in areas from research to business to technology — any career field piques their interest. As of now, the CCC offers information on a few internships, such as Get Involved PA, which relate to the area of community service. However, there should be a much wider spectrum of career fields in which the CCC provides students access to, as service may not be the type of internship every student is looking for.
Information on a more comprehensive group of internships should be gathered and publicized to students so that a larger portion of the student body can attain this experience. This can be done through an online internship list or database for student access on the CCC website or Naviance, and can include the name of the internship, experience needed, time commitment and whether there is a salary or community service hours that students will receive. Then, advisory meetings where teacher advisors discuss the importance of internships and introduce the new database and its uses would be put in place, effectively publicizing the resource to students.
Additionally, the CCC should send out a periodical email to parents asking if they know about any opportunities for students through their employers or colleagues, and allow them to contribute to the database. Many times, parents have more connections or chances to learn about internships through their own respective networks, and would add very valuable contributions to the database.
One on one help with selecting and applying to internships through appointments should also be provided by the CCC. This way, students can receive personalized assistance with narrowing down their choices in terms of the internships they want to apply to, as well as maneuvering the application or interview process. These appointments would also allow for students to get to know the staff of the CCC better, and form relationships before they start more frequent visits to the CCC for the college application process.
The Exploratory Experience course is also a great option for students who are interested in internships during the year. The course allows for students to pick a field they are interested in, and find a mentor who will provide them the opportunity to directly observe the jobs of people who work in the field, and also gain hands-on experience in the field. Students can earn five Career Technical Education credits for each semester they take the class, as long as they work 4 hours a week. This is yet another great opportunity for students, and the CCC should help promote it to students through emails or advisory periods.
The Campanile urges the CCC to consider adding more resources to help connect students with internships in areas that they are interested in, thus making the opportunity for students to gain the valuable knowledge and experience that internships bring a reality.