Internships: Life and career lessons
Preparing for life is generally a difficult rite of passage. Preparing for the life we really want is even trickier. A recent Gallup Poll survey reports that less than half of us are really happy doing what we do. Other studies reveal that job happiness is linked to happy living.
Interning has proven to be a valuable tool for Island young people sorting through the bewildering array of career choices. Nearly 20 percent of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School's 800 students participate in MVRHS' 30-year-old internship program.
Many of the participating upperclassmen say the practical experiences helped them discover their passions, and that they found their career path as a result of interning with Island companies and organizations. Some students have turned their internships into regular jobs.
High school student Emily Alosso of Oak Bluffs, who will be attending Westfield State College, works with five- and six-year-olds at the Oak Bluffs School. With her interest in child development and psychology, she is intrigued by how children learn. "They learn differently than we do. They see things we just pass by," she said. "The progress they make is amazing. For example, we do journaling, and what were chicken scratches in February are now readable full pages." Ms. Alosso said she learned that she can make a difference in their lives, "...give them choices and options and help them interpret when they are overwhelmed."
Sherri Church, career and work-study coordinator, explains, "Our program helps keep kids in school and involved. Most of these kids come to us with a plan. They've already contacted a potential employer," she said, noting MVRHS' dropout rate is less than one percent.
The internship program is serious business. Students, their parents, and employers sign a contract of rights and responsibilities. Students must perform on the job and they must complete a project detailing their work experience every year. Working with Jeff Rothwell, career and technical education director at the high school, Ms. Church says one real world goal is to provide students with a certificate of employability from the state Workforce Investment Board.
High school junior Ryan Welty, a Vineyard Haven resident, has been interning at the Net Result for several years. He's done the grunt work, including filleting fish, but he's also learned to prepare food and to cook. Working at the Vineyard Haven fish market, Mr. Welty learned that he loves to cook. "I want to go to Johnson & Wales," he said. "I know now what it's like to work fulltime, how to interact with customers. I'm more comfortable with people."