South Summit High School internship program opens doors for students |

South Summit High School internship program opens doors for students

Chandler Ries, a senior at South Summit High School, participated in the school's work-base learning program with a physical therapist. The program pairs students with local businesses so students can get experience in their field of study.
Courtesy of Shanna Atkinson

As South Summit High School seniors approach graduation day, one group of students are finishing the school year with more clarity about the career paths they should follow.

The students who completed the school’s work-base learning program spent months shadowing jobs. Some were convinced the careers they desire are the right fit for them, while others realized their life-long career dreams were not what they imagined them to be. Shanna Atkinson, work-base learning coordinator, said regardless of the outcome, students can get insight about their futures from the program.

The work-base learning program matches high school seniors with careers they are interested in pursuing. Atkinson said the program, which is growing, shows students the different career options available to them.

“It’s a great opportunity to get their foot in the door if it’s something they like,” Atkinson said.

In a small town like Kamas with an employment crisis, the program also trains students with the skills needed to fill positions in local businesses, she said.

Hagen Miles, a senior at the high school, signed up for the program because he wanted to determine which engineering discipline to pursue in college. He began an internship for a civil engineering company in Heber earlier in the school year. After finishing his internship hours, the company hired him as a paid intern, and they offered him a position at the company over the summer.

Atkinson said other students have found work through internships as well.

Hagen Miles, a senior at South Summit High School, interned with an engineering company through the work-base learning program.
Courtesy of Shanna Atkinson

The work-base learning program has been in place for several years, but only recently did students start taking advantage of it, Atkinson said. She has focused on making connections with businesses in the area to offer more internships to students.

To support the program, the Kamas Valley Business Association started awarding student interns scholarships for their post-high school education. The high school and the business association recently partnered to host a job fair for graduating seniors and other students.

The partnership, Atkinson said, benefits both the students and businesses in the area.

Miles said his experience at the civil engineering firm will give him a leg up in the engineering industry.

“It’s cool to actually be able to go out and experience something that you actually might be interested in doing and find out if that is what you want to do,” he said. “For me, it leads to a lot of other fresh-out-of-high-school opportunities that you probably wouldn’t get sitting around in an art class.”

Chandler Ries participated in the program and worked with a local physical therapist. She said she learned about how to evaluate patients, tape their injuries and do exercises with them. She said she is grateful for the experience she received working with athletes in the school and with elementary school students in the special education program.

Ries started the program knowing she wanted to do something in the medical field, but she realized she has a passion for physical therapy.

She also made professional relationships with people she can go to and ask questions about the industry.

The Kamas Valley Business Association awarded its first scholarship to Logan Davis, who worked with Ted Hallows at the Kamas Fish Hatchery through South Summit High School’s work-base learning program. From left: Hallows, Davis, Sheila Davis and Sam Aplanalp.
Photo by Tom Smart

Atkinson said not all students have an outcome like Ries. Some try out a career and dislike it, which Atkinson said is also a good result. They can cross off the career earlier rather than entering college and spending money on classes toward that career.

Atkinson said because of the school’s schedule, many seniors have openings in their schedule they can fill with the class. Miles, for example, did not have any classes before lunch every other day. He said he was glad to have an option to fill his schedule.

Atkinson hopes more students catch the vision of the importance of internships. She said more schools across the country are doing what they can to provide real-life learning opportunities to students. Programs like work-base learning are driven by education, but also the industries wanting to train good employees, she said.

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