A new approach to high school internships

Distance learning pilot program will be utilized by HFHS students

The Camas High School Magnet Program has long been known for its summer internship program. Students often log far beyond the required number of hours and have collaborated on impressive projects.

But not all have access to transportation, or funds, to make commuting to and from an unpaid job a reality. Others must work during the summer, when internships are typically offered, to help support themselves or their families. Still others may have a hectic home life.

Starting in February, the Camas School District will address this issue by offering a distance internship program with WaferTech. It will be piloted at Hayes Freedom High School.

“The size and flexibly in our scheduling works well for this type of pilot project,” said Amy Holmes, principal. “It is an exciting opportunity for our students and will be great to partner with a company in our community like WaferTech.”

Nine students will spend 90 hours focusing on units of study such as career ready skills, industry fundamentals, professionalism, cleanroom technology, statistical process control, technical writing and a final project. WaferTech will provide three mentors.

The program will be offered during school hours.

“By having it happen during our school day, students who might not have been able to participate in an internship can easily access this type of opportunity,” Holmes said. “The benefit for the students is the opportunity to learn real world skills necessary for life after high school with a mentor from the industry.”

The pilot was developed by Derek Jacques, the district’s career and technical education director, Holmes, Assistant Superintendent Jeff Snell and teacher Andrew Eoff. He will lead the classes at Hayes.

Holmes noted that conversations and feedback from an adult who is not a teacher can really show students the connections between what they learn in school and life.

“These mentors can specifically, and with detail, explain how the skills will help them in any career and in even in college,” Holmes said.

The goal for students in the program is to apply and connect skills to real world problems.

“By practicing the skills they learn in a safe learning environment, it gives them experience and helps to build confidence,” Holmes said. “Another goal of this program is exposure to all the different kinds of jobs out there that they may not even be aware of.”

Snell noted that the district has long recognized the benefits of internships, but that the logistics can be challenging.

“This pilot at HFHS hopes to bring some of the benefits of internships – application of learning, connection with the world of work beyond high school and mentorship to the students in the pilot while helping us figure out the model as well,” he said.

If the program is a success, it may be expanded to include other types of internships and schools, Snell added.

“We are partnering with the Southwest Washington STEM Network and WaferTech to develop the model and learn from the pilot this year,” he said. “We really appreciate WaferTech and the mentors they’ve provided, Mr. Eoff, and of course, the students for their willingness to try something new.”