After all the hard work that high school seniors have put in over their four years, many want a clean break from the daily stress of school and to get a taste of being part of the workforce to garner real world experience. That is exactly what the Weston High School Internship Program strives to provide.
The internship program is an opportunity for qualified seniors to explore an area of interest and gain work experience outside the school setting during the last four to five weeks of their senior year.
“Our goal is to provide all students with opportunities to explore careers as they receive an up-close look at the world of work,” said Meredith Starzyk, director of the high school Guidance Department and the head of the internship program.
The program is in its fifth year of existence with more than 120 out of 207 seniors participating this time around. It started as a pilot with just 10 students but has received more interest with each passing year.
Students have the opportunity to obtain an internship in anything that interests them. Senior Daniel Muller, a political enthusiast, chose to intern at the offices of 4th District U.S. Congressman Jim Himes in Bridgeport.
“I’ve always been fascinated by politics and I wanted to see how it works at the local level because I didn’t have much previous knowledge about it,” Daniel said.
As an intern, his responsibilites consisted of helping the constitutents service representatives with anything they needed, which included answering phones, attending staff events or a field trip to Mr. Himes’ district. “I did the nitty-gritty stuff to ensure that everything was running smoothly,” Daniel said.
He strongly believes the internship program is beneficial to high school seniors. “It gives seniors the opportunity to, first of all, unwind a little bit at the end of the year, but also an opportunity to explore a career field that we might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore,” the senior said.
At town hall
Daniel wasn’t the only senior to choose politics as his area of interest for the internship program. Seniors Aaron Pomerance and Dani Narins chose to intern locally at Weston Town Hall. They have attended meetings in Hartford, typed up pieces for the town website and done clerical work, including recording mortgages.
“It’s interesting to see how the town works behind the scenes and how much work goes into the little things. There’s a lot of paperwork,” Aaron said with a laugh.
Dani and Aaron both believe that the internship program is successful.
“You are able to experience the work environment and that will be helpful later in life,” Dani said.
Lisa Wolak, Weston High School principal, echoed the same views as the town hall interns. “The internship program is wonderful for students to explore an area of interest in a particular field or career. It is an incredible ‘authentic learning’ opportunity,” Ms. Wolak said.
In the future, Ms. Starzyk is hoping to see the number of participants continue to grow. “Our goal is to have even more students next year. Based on the increase in student participation, I view this program to be a success,” she said.
Other changes she would like to see is for the high school to “capture these experiences through media such as video clips, journal entries, and photos to display for both faculty and students moving forward.” She also sees the need to reach out to more local businesses and organizations in order for the program to continue to expand.
Ms. Wolak also would like students’ efforts to be highlighted in some fashion and suggested graduation as a venue.
Daniel said he would like to see the internship program run longer but understands with Advanced Placement (AP) testing — which takes place nationwide in mid-May — it would be difficult to do so.
Overall, the internship program is an opportunity for high school seniors to gain experience in a field of interest and apply skills they have been working on since kindargarten.
“Through this program, our seniors develop communication skills, appriopriate work attitude, technology skills, and good work habits that will serve them well for life beyond WHS,” Ms. Staryzk said.