NEW ALBANY • New Albany High School junior John Davis is active in journalism activities such as photography and videography, but the 17-year-old is preparing to intern with military systems company Hyperion this summer through a new internship initiative.
Through the combined efforts of area industries, economic planners, nonprofit organizations and the school district, Davis will learn about military technology this summer while getting paid a real wage, and will graduate with college credit.
“It’s a resume builder, and, honestly, I don’t know if I want to go into engineering, but this will hopefully tell me whether I want to go into it,” Davis said.
At a school luncheon surrounded by friends and family, two dozen juniors and seniors officially signed on for paid internships this summer through a New Albany School District pilot initiative which aims to ensure students graduate with both college credits and real career experience.
This is Suzy Bowman’s first year as the career coach at New Albany High School, and Bowman said preparing students for these internship opportunities has been a large part of her duties.
“The students will come into your office, ask lots of questions, and we really try to help guide them and give them a plan for what they will do after they graduate from New Albany High School. The internship program just gives them one more door,” Bowman said.
“For many of them it will be their first job, their first paycheck and a career path that they are actually interested in.”
Area companies and organizations could benefit from being able to access students preparing to enter the workforce, and some aim to show the interns career options they might not have considered.
Brett Fowler, sports information director at Blue Mountain College, will host intern Tucker Shannon this summer in the athletics department. Shannon will do videography work for the college, and actually helped the college before with scorekeeping and live streaming men’s and women’s basketball in the fall.
“Motivated high school students are extremely apt and especially technologically savvy,” Fowler said.
“They want to know what their future career field will look like to help prepare them, or, in some cases, confirm that particular field is what they want to do for their job, so it not only helps the student, it helps us because collegiate athletics is time-consuming and all athletic departments find interns invaluable.”
Three internship programs came together this year to offer two dozen internships to New Albany High School students.
IMPACTO is offered through the Toyota Education Fund and provides opportunities for students in technology, engineering, medical fields and more.
The school district had an idea of how the program would work and utilized grant funding for the IMPACTO internship, said Kristy Luse, vice president of Toyota Education Fund.
“New Albany School District had some foundational plans and preliminary structures in place, but they utilized their Toyota Wellspring STEAM grant funds the last two years to expand and bolster and really get the internship program off the ground,” Luse said.
Toyota Manufacturing Mississippi offers the Creating Your Future internship, a 15-week program in which students earn national certifications, complete orientation and experience the production floor.
Three Rivers Planning & Development offers the Gateway internship, which targets local industries such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology and logistics.
Gateway internships offer students 60 hours of work and IMPACTO offers 160 hours of work. Both programs pay students at least $8 per hour. Interns are paid through the district’s 26 community partnerships. Many partners have also offered internships.
Students take soft skills courses the first semester and dual enrollment courses the next semester, which the district fully pays for to supplement internships with college credit.
New Albany School District Superintendent Lance Evans said the school district has committed to equipping students with skills they will need for jobs in a technology-driven world.
Evans said 45 students want to enroll in the internship program next year and though the program is in its pilot phase, it has already proven successful due to how the community and the district have united to prepare students for the workforce.
“To me, you can see the success already,” Evans said. “The success is there with the community partnerships. The success is there when you see the number of students wanting to enroll. It is there in the support of CREATE Foundation, Toyota and Three Rivers, and we will just continue to expand it and we will measure that success.”