Rice Lake High School teachers Kelly Orr and Chuck Carr updated the Rice Lake School Board on its internship program on Feb. 26.
With the teachers were two student interns and two from local businesses who have been involved in the internship program since its start 7 years ago.
The teachers said the internship program started on a pilot in the 2011-2012 school year. Since then, it has increased to include 85 partnerships in Rice Lake and the surrounding area.
Students in the program complete a cover letter and resume and have an interview. They take part in 70 hours of job shadowing, complete an activity sheet and daily journal, do three article research summaries and a reflection paper.
Orr said a highlight of her day is reading their daily journals and discovering all the ways students are receiving on-the-job training.
“The experience they are getting is unbelievable,” she said.
Kathy Mitchell, who has interviewed students for job shadows at Lakeview Medical Center since the program’s start, said, “The students are phenomenal.”
She said they get exposure to all of the departments to better help them make choices of college majors and careers.
“I can’t wait for the day I hire someone who came through the intern program,” Mitchell said.
Medical intern Olivia Meyer said, “I’m just a huge advocate for this program.”
Meyer said it was amazing to see the team work that goes on behind-the-scenes, and she is grateful for the connections she made.
Engineering intern Sarah Webber said she got to see how civil engineers do their jobs at Cooper Engineering and SEH. Then she got a hands-on look at mechanical engineering at Rice Lake Weighing, where she also learned about packaging and software/coding.
Webber said it is so much better to find out if a career choice suits you while in high school than into your sophomore year in college.
Lori Katcher, human resource supervisor at Rice Lake Weighing, which has taken “an overload” of students said the caliber of the students in the program amazes her.
She said with over 550 employees and 450 job titles within the company, there is usually a job to match everyone’s interests.
Katcher said often the students in the internship program return to work there for summer jobs to learn more, build their resume and get practical experience.
“This program allows them opportunities to see big city careers in a small city like ours,” Katcher said. “The return on our investment is huge.”
Internships now include many fields of interest—law, fire protection, social work, physical/occupational therapy, dentistry, medical, dietetics, chiropractor, optometry, business management, sport management, marketing, finance, accounting, graphic design, editor, biology/conservation, horticulture, education, and speech pathology.
Carr said as more students have expressed interest in the internship program, they started reaching out to businesses in outlaying areas like Barron and Cumberland so as not to place undo burden on Rice Lake businesses.
“It’s amazing and it is all because of our great communities,” Orr said.
District administrator Randy Drost was thrilled with the presentation and all that the teachers, students and businesses have accomplished together.
“To have 85 business partners, how awesome is that?” Drost said.
Student intern Gina Fisher, who is getting teaching experience at the elementary, middle school levels at Rice Lake and high school level at Cameron, commented on her the experience.
“I am really enjoying getting to meet new kids and learning from them every single day,” Fisher said. “They have taught me a lot thus far. I am also learning so much about teaching that I never even knew was out there. This program has really opened up my eyes to so many new experiences.”