Student internships

This summer, John Battista, a machine shop teacher at Prosser High, landed internships for three of his students at S & C Electric. Marius Kryska is still there, working after school, earning $10.18 per hour and looking forward to college next year on the company’s tab.

But not all CPS seniors are so lucky. Last year, only 1,439 seniors in career education had access to a program that combines job preparation classes with workplace internships. Education-to-careers coordinators say good internships are hard to find.

“With the poor economy, adults are taking the jobs high school students would do,” says Joseph Cotey, Harper High coordinator.

Most schools are unable to devote the time and resources necessary to find internships for large numbers of students. According to Cotey, up to 90 percent of his seniors get some work experience, but many are not long-term, paid internships, which he says have the most power to transform students. “It’s miraculous,” Cotey says. “Internships do a lot for children’s belief in themselves. It also opens up a whole new world of people.”

Some small high schools have made securing student internships a priority. At Best Practice High, all students spend a half day every week at unpaid internships, and are required to keep a journal. A full-time internship coordinator spends as much as $30,000 a year to transport students to work sites.

“This was a priority for the founders of the school,” says coordinator Carla Mayer. “A lot of money for buses is just a fact of our budget.”