Seniors at Ligonier Valley High School have a unique opportunity that gives them a head start when entering college or trade school. The benefit for learners comes from the school’s internship program, created in 2017 by teacher Corey Turcheck, with Martin Hickey currently teaching and coordinating.
According to Hickey, more than 120 learners have gained experience in careers of their choice with local businesses, completing internships five days a week and a minimum of three hours a day for a full semester (18 weeks) on site. with their mentors since the program’s inception.
“A typical day consists of learners attending classes in the morning and working on-site at their chosen placement each afternoon,” Hickey explained. “Each learner will coordinate with their mentor their weekly schedules and work assignments for each week. Each mentor plays a key role in the development of each learner and volunteers to provide each learner with “real world” experience in their particular job. »
Hickey said learners gain practical knowledge of professional dress, are on time for work, ask questions daily and conduct themselves in a professional manner during their internship. “They also learn how to interact with their colleagues and learn about different office dynamics, which lends itself to a better understanding of their career choice,” he said.
Throughout the program, learners present a midterm presentation and a final presentation to their classmates in which they reflect on what they have learned during their internship throughout the semester. Some learners choose to do two different internships in two different companies and will present for each company experience.
Community support makes this program possible, according to Hickey. “Our fantastic businesses and local community mentors have enabled our learners to explore careers in veterinary science, medical careers, cybersecurity, accounting, sales and marketing, management consultants wealth/financial, real estate, physical therapy, nursing, law, education, non-profit organizations and many more,” Hickey said. “And all learners have the ability to work in a career of their choice. If a local business is interested in participating in our program and would like additional information, I encourage them to visit our school’s website or contact me at the high school.
Hickey continued, “Each year, learners reflect on what they have learned from our course, and some of their comments include:
• Overall, the internship program definitely creates a better environment from a senior’s perspective. It helps you decide what you want to do with your future.
• I am very happy to have done the internship opportunity. For me, hands-on learning is more beneficial. As a result, my learning quality and my enjoyment of school increased significantly in the second semester. I feel like I definitely learned more than being in a traditional classroom all day.
• I feel like I benefited from my internship because I ended up changing majors because of my experiences this semester. I knew that when I entered the internship program, I wanted to pursue a career in law or accounting. The internship program made me decide that I would rather go into accounting than law. The good thing about leaving school every day is that it taught me how to manage my time. People who have stayed in school are obliged to follow the schedule provided for them. This program taught me to set my own schedule and adapt when things don’t go as planned. Another advantage is working in a professional setting. People who stayed in school probably don’t have a lot of experience in a professional setting. The internship program provided me with this experience that will ease the transition from high school to university and eventually to employment.
• I think most of my friends were jealous that I left school very early every day because they thought I could do whatever I wanted and it was free for everyone, which is not true . I personally believe that I benefited from the internship program because it gives you real world experiences instead of just learning from books in different classes. In my case, it has helped me so far decide what aspects of the company I don’t like and what I like. For me, I think I really benefited from learning how to run a business rather than the profession itself.
• I think the internship program taught me to be more communicative with people around me and to be held responsible for things. It also showed me how to build myself as a learner and future nurse. The internship was definitely beneficial to me because at first I didn’t know if nursing was for me. But, once I was able to gain some in-person experience, it proved to me that I had what it took to land this position in the future. If I had the chance to go back and change it, I never would. This program has truly changed my outlook on nursing and overall communication with others in such a positive way that I would never change a thing.
• This internship really gives you first-hand and eye-opening experience in the field you think you want to get into. Not all of my classmates will have these experiences while sitting in class, and I think that’s very beneficial and should be in every school. I feel like I can grow more in my career now because of the opportunities the internship experience has given me.
Class of 2022 graduate Khorter Drury completed a cybersecurity internship and feels extremely confident in his skills to enter the major at Saint Francis University in Loretto after his experience with Navisec, a cybersecurity company.
“The internship at LVHS taught me a lot and I feel ahead of the game going into college,” Drury said. “I really enjoyed the opportunities with Navisec to work alongside company employees and learn how to perform penetration testing and vulnerability assessments while learning programs and code that I will see at the university. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, overall.
“As we enter our seventh year of providing our learners with this beneficial opportunity to learn more about a career that interests them, a special thank you to all of our local community businesses and mentors who support our program because without you, this program wouldn’t exist,” Hickey pointed out. “The Ligonier Valley School District’s continued support in providing opportunities for our learners is also greatly appreciated!”