Many high schoolers have part-time after-school jobs, but some students at Conway High School are getting class credit and professional experience while participating in the internship program their senior year.
CHS Internship Director Melanie Bell said that an "internship is a great door opener" for students.
"I encourage [the interns] to learn to network and hone their job search skills," Bell said. "In the future, they need to know that this is something in which they can be a success."
Lily Ho is a CHS senior who has been interning with local Certified Public Accountant Lisa Stephens since October. She said she has learned a lot about individual and business taxes and plans to use her new knowledge to pursue her dream of being a marketing analyst.
"I need the accounting background to get into that field, so this has been helpful," she said.
Ho is not the first intern Lisa Stephens has had from Conway High School. In fact, Stephens’ write-up manager Shelby Roofener came to the office five years ago as a CHS senior intern and stayed on through college.
Roofener works around 60 hours a week and will graduate from the University of Central Arkansas this spring. She plans to continue with a career in accounting.
"This has helped me a lot to stay on the same path," she said. "I’ve learned so much more working hands on and even listening to what’s happening in the office, not just doing the work but being around it, learning things that weren’t taught in the classroom in high school or college."
Stephens and Income Tax Manager Jill Walden said Conway High School has been attentive, persistent and consistent when it comes to the internship program.
"They, more so than anyone, come to check up on their students," Walden said. "Melanie Bell has been awesome and even one of Lily’s accounting teachers called to check up on her."
Stephens said she has had positive experiences with her interns throughout the years and always hopes to have an intern who she can train well. Roofener has stayed on board and, even though Ho will be attending the University of Arkansas, there may be opportunities to bring her on in the future.
This sentiment is not exclusive to Stephens, Bell said.
"These employers are not just thinking of their own benefit when they hire an intern," she said. "I really believe, that they are thinking about how they are helping this student ‘kick start’ their career."
Interns earn two high school credits and may leave school early to go to work.
Bell said the interns from CHS are "a cut above the rest" and have genuine interests in their chosen fields.
"I look at their career commitment, grades, attendance, and their four recommendations which include teachers," Bell said of the interns. "Once accepted into the internship program, they are responsible for finding an employer willing to employ them for 12-20 hours per week during their senior year."
The internship program at Conway High School has been in existence since the mid-1990s, Bell said, and it currently offers internships in agricultural science, automotive collision technology, banking and finance, child care, computer applications, computer engineering, construction technology, cosmetology, architectural drafting and design, education and training, health sciences, photography, culinary arts and welding.
(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)