“By providing virtual internships and training during the school day, the WV Ready Internship program is truly a life-changing experience,” said Amelia Courts, president and CEO of The Education Alliance. “By moving this program into schools, it allows students across the state the opportunity to participate in an internship regardless of their geographical location.” In addition to providing graduation credit to students upon successful completion, the course also provides virtual job shadowing and training at 13 West Virginia businesses and matches each school with a business mentor to cultivate employability skills and complete a capstone project.
Tuesday’s event featured three panel discussions from business leaders, educators and students who participated in the WV Ready Internship program. Matam said while Toyota’s intent was to do onsite activities, the pandemic caused the program to go virtual, and while there were challenging times throughout the process, he was amazed at how well the students grasped the material.
“We are very busy operating a small business. I have small children, and I’m very involved in community volunteering, so my time is limited,” she said. “Participating virtually really made this a simple process.” During the semester, Matam said, Toyota was able to work with students to give them a good foundation in problem solving and creative thinking.
Although it was Shenandoah Planing Mills’ first year participating, McDaniel said working around the pandemic was successful and proved to be a great model for the business. Srini Matam, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing WV, and Amanda McDaniel, co-owner of Shenandoah Planing Mills, were featured during the business panel discussion. They discussed the importance of participating in the internship program, as it not only helps students get career-ready, but also creates a talent pipeline of a young and qualified workforce.
In addition to investing in the community, McDaniel said Shenandoah Planing Mills is also continually encouraging people to consider trades as a viable option for post-secondary education and employment. “No matter which area they pick or decide to pursue later in life, starting with a good foundation like this is important and is one of the many reasons we as a company really wanted to invest in the community and education,” he said. “We want to give choices to our students so they can have a brighter future.”
Educators from Raleigh and Kanawha counties were featured during the educator panel, where they shared how internship opportunities are critical for high school students by providing real-world and hands-on experiences. During the student intern panel, featured students Lilah Coe of Herbert Hoover High School and Talia Jordan and Grant Alderman of Capital High School were able to share how the training, mentoring and capstone experience was a pivotal step toward their future careers. “We see this as an investment for our future labor force,” she said. “We really need smart people that are interested in doing hands-on work in trades, and we want younger people to know that this is a viable option for them — there is money and job security, as well as many great options in trades.”
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- West Virginia Business and School Leaders Discuss the Future of Virtual Internships for High School Students | State newspaper news
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