Thirty area high school students found spring and summer employment through a newly opened summer internship program this past year. Developed by CES’s Matt Rigney, Alternative Youth Programs Director, and funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and is supported in part by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Summer High School Internship Challenge, the STEM@Work internships provide these students from ten area high schools valuable experience at a time when they can most use it. The program has been deemed a success by students and their employers for the 2017/18 year, and expanded opportunities for students are underway for 2018/19.
The application process outlined criteria and expectations for the students and encouraged them to ask questions prior to placement. Looking for commitment on the part of the students, Rigney noted: “I couldn’t be more proud of them.” With thirty students placed for the summer of 2018, setting up the program for its first-year run was a positive and smooth process. “Everyone has worked together to make this a success – from employers to student employees.”
“I thought selling this to employers would be a lot more difficult,” said Rigney, “but now that it’s in place, I am overwhelmed by how well it has gone.” Rigney noted that there were 18 placements at the University of Massachusetts laboratories alone in fields like polymer science, physics, and microbiology as well as 12 other placements at other companies throughout the Pioneer Valley. “Students are receiving truly valuable experience in these positions,” says Rigney.
Jonathan Buell said that “the Collaborative STEM internship program was a gleaming success” for Wright Architectural Millwork of Northampton. “In an age where less and less young adults are looking to get into the trades, Matt furnished a remarkable young man that we had the privilege to teach our craft to.” Plans have been made by Wright to hire their intern as a co-op student for the student’s senior year. “The Collaborative internship program has created a vehicle to connect unanticipated talent with willing employers in a way that I have not witnessed before” said Buell.
“We hope to increase the internship slots to fifty next summer,” says Rigney, who has already heard from potential employers. Expecting that 60-70% of the students will be new to the program, the experience opens up opportunities for solid work experience to add to each student’s resume.