Internships allow students to experiment, observe potential career interests


Photo by Yousuf El-Jayyousi.

Allie Pigg

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]uring her high school career, 2016 alumna Sydney Tyler knew she wanted to be a doctor. While exploring colleges and majors during her senior year, however, she started to question why she wanted to start in on the medical field after graduation. While scavenging through class descriptions to decide how to occupy her final year in high school, Tyler wondered if she enjoyed the practice just because she was good at science in school and whether or not saving lives would make her happy for the rest of her life.
To answer her self-conflicting question, Tyler took up an internship during the 2015 2016 school year through RBHS shadowing two surgeons at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC) hospital. As a student intern, Tyler watched the physicians interact with patients during rounds and clinics, and she also got to watch a few surgeries.
Shadowing showed me why I wanted to be a doctor and why becoming a doctor is what I was meant to do,” Tyler said.
Tyler’s work as a student intern fueled her desire to practice medicine because she experienced the reality of being a doctor rather than imagining what it would be like through words in a textbook. She is now in her second year of undergraduate school at the UMC working toward applying to medical school.
This internship experience is not just unique to Tyler; there are 70 students here currently enrolled in internships, Extended Educational Experiences (EEE) and internship coordinator Gwen Struchtemeyer said. Those 70 interns are scattered around mid-Missouri, including students working at various labs at UMC, the capitol building in Jefferson City, other schools or even at the RBHS Title I Preschool downstairs.
Interns can choose to work with all kinds of people, ranging from a complete stranger to their own parents as long as the host provides the student with an insightful experience of his or her professional field. The internship program provides students with learning opportunities as diverse as their interests.
Junior Zoey Princivalli is one of these students. She connected with her internship at Rolling Hills Veterinary Hospital while she was looking through classes to sign up for this school year. During that process, she decided to try an internship.
At her internship, Princivalli shadows a veterinarian, watching him do surgeries and check on animals. Additionally, she often counts cells or pills. Sometimes Princivalli works directly with animals; for example, one time she gave a cat a shot. Before her internship, Princivalli didn’t know she could handle the pressures of being a vet, such as putting dogs down or seeing blood from injured pets. These stress-prone experiences, however, led her to seriously consider the possibility of becoming a veterinarian.
[quote]“Having an internship has impacted my future greatly,” Princivalli said. “Internships look great on your resume [for future jobs] and for colleges. They are a stepping stone for the future; mine has shown me that I am interested in becoming a vet.”[/quote] After reflecting on her experiences as an intern, Princivalli encourages high school students to try an internship in high school, hoping it has the same impact on possible careers for others as it did for her.
Struchtemeyer also values students’ availability to seek professional internships at RBHS. It gives them a glimpse into the real world of employment that they will face after high school. Internships, she said, can impact students’ current character as well as their future endeavors, all while saving them time and money.
For students who fail to see the purpose of tedious, time-consuming school work, experiencing an internship can open their eyes to what lies beyond high school. If they find themselves enjoying the work at their internship, they may be motivated to commit to their schooling so that the work can become reality in the future.
Additionally, high school internships allow students to experiment with career interests without wasting the time and money associated with switching majors and jobs during and after college.
“The worst thing you could do is wake up at [age] 45 and hate your job,” Struchtemeyer said.
While these benefits assist students in developing awareness and excitement for future careers, internships also foster connections that may remain with the student intern for the rest of his or her life.
“The goal is not to just see whether this is a job you like,” Struchtemeyer said. “This is a reference–someone who you can list as someone who will vouch for your work ethic and character for the remainder of your career.”
To set up an internship, students can sign up for the EEE internship class next semester or next school year and speak with Struchtemeyer about field interests. The program is not limited to students on the EEE roster;  rather, it has an open door policy for any student who is willing to work hard and represent RBHS well.
Additionally, the program offers internships within the building so that students without access to transportation can still participate. Struchtemeyer said she wishes all students would do an internship at some point in their high school career because of the potential to set forth plans for the future just as interning did for Tyler, Princivalli and countless other RBHS students and alumni.
Tyler said her internship provided her first experience of interacting with physicians. Her most memorable experience during her internship was a particular case where she shadowed from the day the patient got her first scans to her postoperative appointments. As a senior in high school, Tyler got to obverse a case before, during and after surgery. That, Tyler said, sealed why she wanted to enter the medical field.
“Being able to see the entire process, from start to finish, being able to get to know a patient– her case, her prognosis, her fears, her family– it felt real to me,” Tyler said. “It felt important. It was life-changing.”
Do you have an internship at RBHS? Let us know in the comments below.