Getting a taste of the real world: Students leave school for the working world
At the end of each spring semester, Wilton High School seniors get a look at the future through the annual Senior Internship Project. Led by teacher Scott Durkee, students select internships at area businesses with the hope of gaining a perspective on the working world.
One of these students, 18-year-old Nicki Rutishauser, has been working at Cider Mill School as a teacher’s assistant since mid-May.
“I did the internship to get a better look at what teachers do and everything,” she said, “I love working with kids, too.”
Ninety-one percent of the senior class — 275 members — is participating in the Senior Internship Project, which allows seniors to leave high school before the end of the term if they agree to work for a local business, school or nonprofit organization for 125 to 150 hours over the duration of the four- to five-week program. This program gives students the opportunity to not only explore potential careers, but also gain experience in the working world. Most seniors, even if they have already picked their college majors, likely lack experience in their chosen field.
“It’s important for students going off to college to get some experience before picking a career,” said Mr. Durkee, who is also a science teacher at Wilton High School. “Students get a lot from the internship.” According to Mr. Durkee, they experience what it takes for a business to succeed and to thrive.
Seniors are partaking in all kinds of work: teaching, health care, and marketing.
Elliot Broach decided to work as a spokesperson for the Wave Hill Bread Company in Norwalk.
Elliot gives away samples at supermarkets in Danbury and Stamford, and speaks to customers who are interested in Wave Hill Bread products.
“I’ve gained work experience I otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Elliot, who is interested in sales.
Many employers find the internship program beneficial because they get extra help and at the same can help prepare students to succeed in a professional working environment.
“I think it’s a great idea, it’s a win-win,” said Shawn Webb, Elliot’s supervisor at Wave Hill. “We get an extra set of hands and they get to learn our business.”
Sammy Augenbraun is fulfilling an internship at Cardiology Physicians of Fairfield County in Norwalk, a medical organization providing care and research in the cardiovascular field. Her tasks include market research and pre-screening patients for trials.
“Sammy is wonderful,” said Tanya Malak, a clinical research coordinator and Sammy’s supervisor. “She’s been helpful for us, and I feel she learns.”
Sammy, though not interested in cardiology specifically, said she is most interested in the clinical research part of her position.
“I’m really interested in epidemiology and I think that clinical research is an important step,” she said.
While Sammy have gained clear ideas into a new career, the same isn’t always true for everyone’s internship experience. Even though the internships provide important insight into a new career, they are not always a direct path to a specific profession. When asked if she wanted to pursue education, Ms. Rutishauser said she was not sure.
“I’m interested in it, but I’m also interested in a few other areas to major in,” she said. However, she continued to say she thinks the internship program is “useful no matter where anyone ends up working.”