“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This is an oft-asked question that a student hears throughout their school career. While many have “no idea” what they want to pursue for future employment, for those that do, Weber School District has phenomenal opportunities available. Over the past nine years, WSD’s Internship program has grown from 40 students to over 140 students per semester. Having an internship has brought a whole new meaning to a young adult’s education as employer/mentors offer experiences as diverse as the workplace itself. Law enforcement, physical therapy, accounting, multiple health professions, engineering, education, and veterinarians are just some of the occupations that our students are able to experience. The opportunities encompass the full spectrum of real-world, relevant experience.
The cooperation and willingness of our business partners is incredible and indicative of the kind of support we receive in Weber School District on behalf of our students. Business Partners are establishing expectations, competencies and benchmarks that they want the interns to reach while out in the workplace. It’s not enough to just show up anymore, students are expected to develop skills related to their work experiences. With these higher expectations, the students come away feeling like they have really done something, having been involved in meaningful projects related to advancing the business. They become, as Dave Harris, engineer from Fresenius, put it, “Value added.”
Mr. Jeff Meyer, our CTE Work-Based Learning Coordinator organizes, initiates and manages Weber District’s Internship program and is a fantastic ambassador for this outstanding opportunity. With each quarter’s experience students submit a reflection sheet about their experiences to Mr. Meyer. When asked about some of the things that are related by the students, Mr. Meyer said that the most common phrase he sees is “…this was the best experience of my Senior/Junior Year,” and that feeling is echoed by our employers/mentors. Even though the internship is not meant to be a paid experience last spring alone more than 20 of our student interns had been hired in one capacity or another at their internship site. That number is especially high when many of our business partners are limited due to the post-secondary degree and certification requirements of their employees.
It would be difficult for our schools to replicate the type of learning that students receive through their internships. Many students realize these are the jobs that they want to pursue for their career and use it as a springboard as they continue on to post-secondary education. Some find out that the occupation is not for them and are able to pursue other careers. Regardless of the situation, each one of our students has developed soft skills pertaining to work-place etiquette and protocols that they will be able to utilize in whatever their pursuits may be. Student Internships….another part of “The Weber Way”!