- Go through the interview process. Not only will it help you determine who will be the best fit for your organization, but it gives the students valuable practice in sharpening their interview skills.
- Commit to the training. Yes, it’s time consuming, and be prepared to answer a lot of questions. The effort you put into the first week of bringing them on board will make or break their (and your own) experience with the program. Make sure that you develop a plan to give them a variety of exposure to different areas of your business. They aren’t in college yet, so this is equivalent to an in-depth realistic job preview that could help them determine what area of study to pursue someday.
- Assign a mentor. I can’t stress this enough. A mentor is the student’s confidant to share their experience with, and helps the internship achieve its goal – workforce development.
- Plan for their growth and development. You never know, you may have just found an excellent future employee. Why not give them their best shot? Plan to have them learn and grow, taking on more responsibility. You will be rewarded with seeing them develop not only as workers, but as young adults shaping their future. For our company, that has been one of the most rewarding elements of the experience.
- Remember that they are high school students! You can be sure that sometimes you (and your colleagues) will forget this. Many times, the quality of work is so good that you’ll find yourself assuming that they will know how to handle difficult circumstances. You must remind yourself and others that the purpose of the internship is for their learning benefit, and it’s your job (especially the mentor’s) to use each hurdle as a teaching moment. As high school students, many of them have had no exposure to any company or job. As their first experience into the working world, don’t take this lightly!
A program that started off as a five-week commitment has developed into a long-term relationship with our intern. Our experience was so positive that we brought another one on board this year. Seeing the growth and maturity of each student throughout the program is rewarding and exciting. It’s a small way we can help develop our future Clark County work force. Now that’s a win for everyone!
If you’d like to learn more about the Clark County Skills Center, more information can be found at: www.ccskillscenter.com .
Laura Piltz is the human resources manager at MacKay Sposito, a Vancouver-based consultant in energy, public works and land development.