Going into senior year is a scary thing. You’re looking at colleges perfect for what you’re going to study based on what you want to do for the rest of your life. Nothing’s set in stone, but it can certainly feel like you have to have it all figured out by age 18. An opportunity to get some experience in the “real world” can relieve some of the pressure high schoolers feel about going into it.
That’s the precise goal of the BHS senior internship course. Students spend 10 hours a week at their chosen internship, meeting during blocks C and D, and receive two credits for the class.
“For some, they’re really confident about what they want. Others decide, ‘It’s not what I thought,’ and they’re able to change course,” explained Erin Eastman, career ready counselor and senior internship advisor at the high school.
Eastman allows students to find their own internships or apply for ones BHS already has open to them, as long as she approves. Her role is to oversee and offer advice to students, leaving it to mainly be a self-driven class, down to the final exam, which is a capstone project designed by students to show what they’ve learned throughout the year.
It may sound off-putting to some, having to decide everything on your own. But there’s plenty of guidance beforehand. The 35 seniors currently enrolled spent the first few weeks of September in the classroom, rather than starting at their internships right away.
Eastman said, “On the first day, all the students are a little bit nervous.” Students are hesitant to raise their hands and volunteer for activities. However, they have significantly more incentive to be ready for their internship than for an academic class, which allows them to pick things up fast.
The biggest challenge for students is learning to communicate in a professional environment, Eastman explained. They learn how to dress, what body language is important, how to handle an interview, even how to address a letter for those too immersed in the world of technology.
Senior Angi Hayes was offered a job outside of school at her internship site, CareWell Urgent Care in Dennis. She was interviewed on the spot for it, and though she might have had a different response before the class, she said she had no problem jumping into the interview.
Hayes started out at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, wanting to learn about business, but she ended up not liking it. She then switched her internship to CareWell Urgent Care and is learning about the radiology field.
“It saved me a lot of money,” she said, relieved not to have gone through years of college studying something she wouldn’t want to do.
Though communication is the biggest challenge for students, it’s also the most useful thing they learn at their internships. Hayes is in charge of checking people in, doing their insurance, making plans, and taking care of payments. She’s one of the first people patients see, and she’s had to deal with a lot of difficult situations. She’s had to learn how to act around clients, not just coworkers and employers.
Senior Raphy DeSouza is interning at Advanced Embroidery in Hyannis. He chose it because he wanted to see how the business worked, and said it has reinforced the idea that he wants to work for himself. It’s given him useful insight into how to start his own business.
He mainly helps with the marketing of Bros of Our Lives (a local business that sells at Advanced Embroidery), cleaning up, and taking apart screens for the printing press.
DeSouza said the main difference between the internship and a normal class is it doesn’t feel like you’re learning in a traditional classroom, even though you’ve picked up on a lot. He likes the hands-on experience better.
DeSouza said he was challenged in “how I have to go on somebody else’s time. They’re dependent on me.” It was difficult to adjust to his boss’s time schedule, not his own.
At the end of the year, Eastman has students make comments on what they thought of their internship, and the consensus is almost unanimously positive, many saying it changed their life.