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South Valley Journal

Internships provide the ‘how’ and ‘wow’ of various career options

Mar 29, 2022 08:53PM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

When Mountain Ridge High School senior Phoebe White was asked to test quail feces for disease, she was thrilled. Through her internship with the Utah Department of Agriculture’s Animal Industry Division, she also shadowed the state meat inspector—visiting food plants, slaughterhouses and meat packing plants—and learned about the registry of branding for domesticated elk herds.

“I just wanted to see all different types of industries and get a feel for what's really out there to do in agriculture,” White said.

Her internship was arranged through the Jordan Academy of Technology and Careers.

“Regardless of what you want to do, they have an amazing way of helping you with your career skills, but also giving you that hands-on work to help you decide what you want to do,” White said.

Internship students earn credit toward graduation, learn general job skills and spend a minimum of 40 hours getting on-the-job experience in their chosen field.

JATC Internship Coordinator Wendy Checketts said there is always a need for more internship mentors. If interested in hosting an intern, contact [email protected].

She said when there are more options, students have a better chance of finding a placement which matches their skills and interests. Past and current placements include hospitals, business offices and fire departments. Students have been mentored by entrepreneurs, educators, diplomats, city officials and authors.

“It amazes me how many businesses and individuals are willing to volunteer their time and resources to help our students discover their path beyond high school,” Checketts said.

The relationship between an intern and mentor is mutually beneficial, Checketts said. Businesses get an unpaid, passionate employee, and students experience the day-to-day of their dream job.

“We love hosting interns and watching them progress and learn new skills that will help them with their future endeavors,” said Shannon Nielsen, assistant manager at Copper View Animal Hospital. “Our veterinarians love to teach and allow our interns to observe their procedures. Interns have the ability to ask our veterinarians questions about these procedures and see if this is a field they are interested in pursuing.”

Sometimes the internship turns into a job offer because after 40 hours of observation, mentors know what kind of employee the student will be.

“Over the past years of having interns, we have hired select individuals after their internships are over,” Nielsen said. “All the interns we have hired have become a great asset to Copper View.”

Most students have some background knowledge before they begin an internship. Because of the business marketing classes she’d taken at school, one student was able to make the most of her internship with the communication and marketing department at Herriman City.

Interns at Jordan Valley Hospital usually have taken a medical terminology or anatomy class. A student interested in working in business will have taken business, marketing, communications or finance classes.

All students also take a basic job skills class before they begin on-site training.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Baker said these classes, and the internship experience, give teenagers a head-start.

“Employers are demanding that [job applicants] have experience but a lot of these kids coming out of high school and college don't have real life experience, it's just textbook experience,” he said.

During his senior year, Baker took a JATC internship with a local real estate developer/entrepreneur/author, who walked him through the process of starting a business. In the past two years, Baker has started two businesses and a podcast. Through the internship, he also learned problem-solving, communication skills and how to use tools like Linked-In, which he has utilized to grow his client base and find guests for his podcast.

“If I didn't have that internship, honestly, I would still be in college, going into thousands of dollars of debt and not knowing what I want to do with my life,” he said. “I would not be where I am today.”

Oftentimes, the internship helps a student realize that type of job is not the career they want to pursue. One student was interested in phlebotomy and was placed with The Red Cross.

“She left that knowing she does not want to be a phlebotomist for the rest of her life,” Checketts said. “But she was going to train and become one to work to get her throug