By DAVID VOEGELE
Director of Essex CHIPS

Community-based internships are an important way to students to learn about the “world of work”. These unpaid positions offer teens the opportunity to learn about various organizational environments in which they may someday be working. Through a professionally managed internship program, as exemplified by the Essex High School Career Center, teens gain valuable insights and experiences that can further their goals for college and careers.

Over the past few weeks, Essex CHIPS has benefited from having two interns from the EHS program. They are Shaylin Clifford and Gregg Galati, seniors at Essex High School. Both have assisted with our fundraising efforts, by identifying potential business sponsors for the 2nd Annual Vermont Birdie Bash, and preparing a mailing to them. Gregg has also prepared a draft press release for CHIPS, and helped with grant research. Shaylin has also been assisting in our Teen/Tween Center.

During the interview, I asked them to address why internships are useful. Shaylin responded, “Internships are important for high school students…they get to have an adult real life work experience. This will be helpful for future for job opportunities…and will stand out to for college admissions.” In response to the same question, Gregg said “I think internships are important because they help teach and build valuable responsibility and social skills among growing and developing teens.”

I was curious why they chose CHIPS for their internships. Gregg commented “I respect all that the organization does for the families in the community and I thought it would be a good opportunity to help give back. According to Shaylin, “For me, I have always loved to be part of a supportive community. Essex CHIPS fits the supportive definition…. is a great after-school program for kids.”

In that internships usually are in an area of interest to the student, I asked Shaylin how her internship at CHIPS relates to her own personal vision for the future. She said, “After High School, I am planning on going to Northern University Vermont, with Psychology as my course of study.”

As I have with other students interviewed for this column, I asked them about issues and concerns facing students. Shaylin’s perspective on this topic was framed by her interest in psychology. “Some social issues include dealing with embarrassment, and feeling insecure or always having to compete with others…the school counselors are always on top of it and assisting with these situations.” Gregg had a different take on this question. “I think the main issue and construct that concerns high school students and especially seniors and juniors is the pressure of attending college. For a lot of people…this is a great option, although for some individuals it is not.”

As interns at CHIPS, Shaylin and Gregg have both been of service to the youth of Essex. Their presence and assistance has certainly been good for our agency. I believe they will both acknowledge the experience has been useful to them as well.