What did you do this summer? For eight Watertown high schoolers, the dreaded first assignment is a little easier this fall. Together they completed over a thousand hours of work as interns for which each received a $1,000 stipend under the Watertown Community Foundation’s high school internship program, WCF announced. The program, open to Watertown residents in grades 9-12 attending any school, required at least 20 hours of voluntary work per week for at least six weeks. This was the second year WCF has offered the program, which grew from five students in 2015 to eight in 2016.
What did they do? Grant recipients were interns in summer education programs, doctor’s offices, veterinary clinics, theater programs and a makerspace. They were at a language immersion school and non-profit organizations working to alleviate poverty and educate the public about genocide.
What did they learn? Interns developed concrete skills, from operating 3D printers, building and coding robots to running heartworm tests and working with web publishing and design software. They discovered the satisfaction of seeing the effect of their work. An intern at the Watertown Animal Hospital noted “it was such a good feeling to be able to help out with the animals and see their improvements as time went by.” And they practiced some essential skills for virtually any workplace: “I also honed my professional writing skills and became more confident when making calls on the phone.”
What did they experience? Camilla Gana, who interned in a physician’s office went from seeing a medical team assembled and patients prepped for procedures, to observing a routine colonoscopy and then a patient’s death in the Intensive Care Unit. She helped providers working with substance abuse patients and saw a cardiac catheterization and stomach surgery. Jeremy Holt interned at City Mission Boston and saw parts of the city he’d never seen. And Teal Fechtor-Pradines, who worked with special needs students, observed that it “definitely gave me more insight into how to work with these kids, which will help me out a lot in my job after school.”
The students’ experiences could directly aid their educational and job paths, as subject matter for a college application essay or as relevant work experience. Sara Garcia Miller, who was a teacher’s assistant in a language immersion class, explained: “I can use this experience for my future because I’m interested in working with preschoolers.” One student kept a journal and over the six weeks wrote about what she liked, things she was good at and “not so good at to help me for the future.” What did they enjoy? “I personally loved when meeting everyone that they didn’t talk to me like a little kid.”
WCF high school interns were at these placements:
1. North Shore Physician’s Group- Camilla Gana
2. ABC Spanish in Motion (Charlestown) – Sara Garcia Miller
3. Watertown Animal Hospital – Reem Hussein
4. The Genocide Education Project – Rosdom Kaligian
5. Watertown Children’s Theatre – Hallie Blitzman
6. Watertown Public Schools – Special Ed Summer Program – Teal Fechtor-Pradines
7. City Mission Boston – Jeremy Holt
8. HATCH MakerSpace – Henry Hartshorn
WCF Co-President David Siegel explained, “Kids have always had summer jobs, but the importance of exposure to different types of work and different fields has grown as high schoolers must increasingly integrate what they learn in school to application in the broader world. We would love to be able to fund more internships, and find more businesses and organizations interested in hosting interns. We see this program as a way to help fire kids’ interests in higher education and careers – and by providing stipends, we can ensure that all families have these opportunities for their children.”