On March 10, my friend Donna Spann of Capstone College and Career Advising wrote about the importance of internships in her "College Corner" editorial. In the article, she mentioned the Business Education Council and our plans to expand internships for local high school and college students. Two major efforts are underway that will serve to build up the supply of opportunities for area students.



In January, Millennial Branding, in partnership with Internships.com, surveyed employers and students nationwide. In "The High School Careers Study," 60 percent of employers surveyed stated that students need to begin focusing on their careers in high school in order to compete for jobs in the future and 90 percent agreed that high school internship programs can help students get into better colleges. Additionally, half of the employers said they already were accepting internship applications from high school students or plan to start an internship program this year.

Tyler-area businesses soon will hear a rallying cry to either initiate or grow their internship programs. Four of our largest local accounting firms recently partnered with the Business Education Council and Tyler ISD to spearhead a formalized high school internship program. The hope is that this program will be a model for other businesses to follow suit.

There are Tyler ISD established prerequisites such as completion of an industry-related course with a grade of 88 or higher, status as a senior and demonstrable traits such as strong work ethic, character and maturity.

The student will be enrolled in a course called Career Prep, and high school credit will be available based on the number of hours worked. The career prep teacher will supervise collaboratively with the firm, along with the technical course instructor. There will be worksite visits. Dress, punctuality and other professional behavior parameters will be set forth so the student knows exactly what is expected. Interviews will be conducted as for any job and there will be fall, spring and summer opportunities available.



The Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, Tyler Area Business Education Council and Internships.com also have formed a partnership to help facilitate the college internship process.

At no cost, chamber members can utilize the world's largest internship marketplace to post internship positions and to locate talent.

Local higher education institutions are encouraging students to register on the site and to search for opportunities within our community that offer them workplace experience to match their realm of coursework and studies.

You may visit the site at internships.com/group/tyler-chamber.

Internships not only provide work experience, but they also give students the opportunity to network, identify mentors and gain new skills. A high school internship can give the student a distinct advantage in the college application and interviewing process. A college internship likely can lead to a full-time job offer once the student graduates.

For companies, it is a great way to support a local high school or college and especially valuable to help fill their talent pipeline for future employees. Not to mention all of the great work that the interns can do while on the job. Improving and optimizing one's social media presence is just one example of how the younger generation can be a welcome presence in many businesses.

The reality is that students can no longer simply take what is handed to them in the classroom; they must seek any and all opportunities to supplement their education and hone the skills necessary to make them stand out from the crowd. Completion of an internship in either high school or college or both is evidence that the student is motivated and willing to work hard and is able to face a challenge.

Best said by Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, is this: "In today's economy, students have to start building their careers in high school in order to better compete in the college admissions process, for college internships and eventually full-time jobs. Employers who offer high school internships will build brand awareness early, fill up their talent pipeline and be able to remain competitive in the marketplace."


Christi Khalaf is the executive director of the Tyler Area Business Education Council, an initiative of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column appears monthly in the Learning section.



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