Young people who take the initiative to seek internships and on-the-job training can find themselves on the receiving end of proficiencies never imagined while sitting in a classroom, participants reveal.
“Always do today what others won’t, so tomorrow you can do what others can’t,” advised Gary Medeville, a Chino Valley High School senior, 2016 Arizona high school wrestling champion, enrollee in Mountain Institute Joint Technical Education District (MIJTED), and a weekend operations controller at North-Aire Aviation. “Having a proactive and positive attitude in the work environment makes you stand out to employers and makes you more preferable for hire.”
Business owner Tracey Horn, a former intern herself, also has supervised graphic design interns at her firm, Helken & Horn Advertising Agency.
“It really helped me define my career path, so I am a huge fan of internships,” Horn said, describing her initial pursuit of a career in film production while earning her degree at the University of Arizona. An internship with a film company helped Horn discover that “it was not the path I wanted to take.” She then interned at an advertising agency, and “found my calling. The light switch came on. They hired me after the internship was done. I grew up in the world of advertising, but fell in love with it interning.”
No statistics are readily available regarding internships and job offers at the high school level, but the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that 61 percent of graduating university seniors from the class of 2014 had undertaken an internship or co-op experience. Of university graduates receiving job offers before graduation, 52 percent had held internships.
“It is so very important for hands-on experience with what you think you want to do in life,” Horn said, noting that options such as MIJTED did not exist where she grew up. She urges students to take any opportunity to incorporate internships. MIJTED CTE Director Laura Jaime agrees.
“On-the-job training is crucial to the students applying the skills that they have learned in class and putting them to use in a real world application,” Jaime explained. “The students need to understand the ‘feeling’ of being on a job site that cannot be recreated in the classroom.”
MIJTED Skills Labs provide students with on-the-job training for high school credit, Jaime explained. Over the past four years, Skills Labs have been placing 15 to 20 high school students annually with area companies: Tim’s Toyota, Lamb Chevrolet, Soldi Creative Cuisine, Earnhardt Liberty Kia, Outdoor Sports, Bowen Chiropractic, Canyon Physical Therapy, Advanced Physical Therapy, Circle L Animal Hospital, Yampa Precision, Yavapai Regional Medical Center, Heritage Funeral Home, and Family Medical Walk-In Clinic. Firms such as Soldi Creative Cuisine and Earnhardt Liberty Kia have subsequently hired their interns.
Students and their families also have been known to generate their own opportunities. Medevielle, for example, transitioned to his current position at North-Aire Aviation after negotiating an internship last summer.
“Working as an operations controller, I usually check in with the students and make sure they are ready for their activity for the day,” Medevielle explained. “After the activity is complete, I send them out with a smile. Sometimes, I’ll check the fuel for the airplane and make sure all the briefing rooms are ready to go for the day.”
Medevielle says he achieved the internship after attending an open house. “During the cleanup,” he explained, “I was helping out with the work and my dad knew I had a love for aviation, so he asked if I could get a job as a hangar boy to start off. After some asking around, he was able to get me to talk with some of the people in management. Afterwards, we set up an interview and I received the internship.”
Company President Greg Reverdiau said Medevielle “has been an excellent addition to our team at North-Aire Aviation. We have a solid dedication to giving back to our community and mentoring the next generation of workforce candidates fulfills that goal. Gary shares his enthusiasm and raw talent with us and we work together in executing standard business practices. He learns about what is expected in the world of work and how to respond to business situations. We value his insights and contributions to our workflow and customer care. Internships and on-the-job training are win-win relationships I would recommend to any business owner in today’s competitive global marketplace.”
Medevielle plans to join the military after graduation and anticipates that his contributions at North-Aire Aviation will help him become an air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Working with pilots is what air traffic controllers do,” Medevielle stated. “So I think that being able to understand them is helpful. Also, I want to become a private pilot myself, so spending time with them is beneficial because I can learn something about flying every day. It also gives me people skills and work experience.”
Medevielle and Horn offered insights for locating internships and job training. Horn said she, as an employer, looks for individuals who want to learn and to observe, who show interest, and who are enthusiastic about the business world.
“Just ask around, and if you have an interest in something, go for it because you never know unless you try,” Medevielle encouraged. “Even if you have to start from the bottom, it’s still great work experience. Having a positive attitude towards your work will make your time there a lot more enjoyable and you may become an example for your co-workers.”
By Sue Marceau