HOUSTON – Houston High School is now the host of a new internship program, one that prepares students not just for work, but for a career.
It is named the Hightopper Internship Program (HIP).
Joy Deason, a career coach at the high school, started the program last summer, during the height of COVID, with four interns.
“The program is designed to give high school students a taste of the working world,” said Deason. “We think that's part of their education, really. My job as Career Coach is to get them career aware and ready.”
It is primarily for seniors, and prospective interns must complete an application process, making it a competitive program. Students are also required to have two teacher referrals and put together a resume, as well as have training in essential work skills as she referred to it.
Attendance is another factor that is looked at before deciding who qualifies.
The response from the students has been good according to Deason. She said that they started with the four interns in the summer to get an idea of how the program would work, and get a feel for the territory. Then in the fall they had seven interns. They also hope to keep increasing as time goes on.
“Our goal is to double our amount of interns every semester.”
She said another encouraging note is that more businesses are expressing interest in hosting interns. The next group of interns is expected to begin working at their respective employers in January of 2021.
Deason based the program off of her own four predictors of post-high school success. These four tenants are her own formula for success after graduation. She said that they are simply her own observations in her time as a career coach.
“I think every students should graduate high school with these four checked off.”
The four are presented as an acronym, JADE.
“J” stands for job. She said that every high school graduate should have had a part time job. She said that the reasoning behind this is because they do not want the first job out of school to be their first job because the stakes are often much higher, and there is less room for learning and growing.
“That is part of the reason we have the internship program is we want them to cut their teeth where they can make mistakes.”
“A” stands for attendance. She clarified that a students attendance in school is a strong predictor of their attendance at a job. A student who does not show up for class is more likely not to show up for work.
“It also has a lot to do with their attitude. I can guarantee you that if they're not coming to school they don't have a good attitude, about school and about life. If they don't have a good attitude about school, its hard for them to have a good attitude about what they are going to do after school.”
“D” stands for Driver's License. According to Deason, there are a number of students who graduate high school without a driver's license, which she said presents a number of problems.
“When a student graduates without a driver's license, they do not have transportation to a job, transportation to school, transportation to the rest of their life.”
Lastly, “E” stands fro email. She said that it is one of the most important factors of the working world, and being able to write a cohesive, properly formatted email is of the utmost importance.
“I believe that if they graduate with those four things, they have a much better chance at after-school success.”
Any businesses interested in potentially hosting an intern are urged to contact Deason at the school and see what can be worked out.