Student Internships

Elizabeth Bulat, Editor-in-Chief

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At 12:20 p.m., senior Avneet Aulakh is finished with her school day. When she leaves RHS, however, she goes to the Rochester Law Center where she has her internship. This opportunity is one she obtained through a program called Practicum at RHS. Offered to junior and senior students, this  work-based learning program finds students internships or jobs in the community with 92 willing businesses to help them gain real-life experiences in the work environment.

“It has shown me what I want to do in the future,” Aulakh said. “I always knew I wanted to go into law, but this specific law center specializes in business law and that’s what I now want to go into.”

Junior and senior year is often when students begin to explore future career options. By taking advantage of the Practicum program, high schoolers can sort out what aspects of jobs they like and dislike to better understand which  career they want to pursue in the future. For instance, senior Julia Payne is passionate about leadership and business and plans on studying it in college, so she started an internship at the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce which gave her many opportunities to pursue these fields. After the first quarter of her internship, her aspirations for the future were solidified.

“I’ve learned that I enjoy moving around and talking to new people everyday, not sitting in a cubicle all day everyday,” said Payne. “I love event planning and business management.”

Although interns often don’t always complete the most desirable jobs, it is still a valuable experience. Internships are typically unpaid, especially for high school students. However, Payne and others recognize that many benefits of having an internship will emerge in the future.

“I’ve learned that you must work your way up in the business world,” said Payne. “I’ve been doing a lot of basic things at my internship like putting together papers into an envelope, but it will help me in the future.”

Although many students find confirmation of which  career field they want to go into through internships, some students find that they really don’t want to pursue their initial choice. For instance, senior Kaitlyn Arnold worked at the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce for a one-day career experience. Although she enjoyed some aspects of the job, she realized that a job that included sitting an office all day wasn’t for her. However, Arnold explained that she still viewed her experience as a valuable one because it ruled out some careers she is no longer considers pursuing.

“I love it when a student tells me after an internship or job shadow that that was not the place for them,” said business teacher Mrs. Malsbury. “I would rather they figure it out now rather than later when they’ve committed to a 4 year degree program.”

In addition to opportunities within RHS, students can pursue internships outside of the school day or during the summer. Senior Noah Peterson, for example, obtained an internship in the summer of 2017 at the Mayor of Rochester Hills office. Peterson did a variety of things during his internship experience from introducing people to the Mayor to organizing welcome packets for new Rochester Hills residents. This internship taught Peterson about government and inspired his future career goal.

“In the future I want to work in the State department,” said Peterson. “I learned that in order to create a functioning government you have to work with people you may not see eye-to-eye with.”

Mrs. Malsbury organized an event outside of Practicum for students to explore the workplace called the Authentic Career Experience. This opportunity not only gave students a chance to explore careers, but also inspired some to pursue internships to gain further understanding of their respective career. Mrs. Malsbury explained that she is working to make the Authentic Career Experience a yearly event for juniors and seniors.

“I found this experience very valuable. It would push me to get an internship in the future,” said Arnold. “I think that it is important to get a taste for the you are looking for before having to get an actual job, or even just deciding what you want to study in college.”

For students who are interested in gaining an internship or career exploration opportunity, there are many ways both in the community and in the school for them to get involved. The variety of opportunities to learn about careers lends itself to most schedules for there are opportunities during the school day, breaks, after school, and summer. In addition to signing up for a Work-Based-Learning course like Practicum or Co-Op, students can reach out to local corporations or can read the list of willing community businesses on the Talon website.

“For a one day job shadow, sign up for the next one. It’s on Friday April 25,” said Mrs. Malsbury. “To get more in-depth experience sign up for Work Based Learning. That is a one hour or two hour block class. You get to leave school early every day to go out to a job where you work alongside professionals in a career that you are interested in.”

Internships are are opportunities that can serve many purposes for high school students. In addition to standing out in a resume or college application, internships can provide students with realistic workplace experiences giving them insight to what they may want to study in the future.

“I think that all students should have an internship or job shadow in several career areas before they graduate,” said Mrs. Malsbury. “We need students to have more exposure to the world of business, manufacturing, health services and IT so they can make better informed decisions.”

I think that all students should have an internship or job shadow in several career areas before they graduate,”

— Mrs. Malsbury