How many high school seniors do you know who have assisted with autopsies or flown planes? Thanks to Crown Point High School’s internship program, more than 280 senior students are receiving on-the-job training in their own community through local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
This year marks the largest number of participants among both students and businesses, according to CPHS intern coordinator Ginny Zega. “We try to make sure every student has a meaningful experience that is worthy of a career pathway, that this is not just another job that they could have had after school,” Zega said. “If a student is in a culinary placement, they should be working alongside management or taking on actual culinary duties.”
Although there are a wide range of career interests, internship opportunities in the medical, education, business/law, and culinary sectors account for more than half of the placements among students. Forensic science, marine biology, and meteorology are a few of the more uncommon interests. Because there are so many students and hosts to coordinate, placements begin as early as January of a student’s junior year.
Operation Charlie Bravo
Aiden Stankiewicz is an intern at Operation Charlie Bravo (OCB), a non-profit organization that supports veterans with their goal to lower suicide rates and prevent homelessness among vets. The organization has multiple programs such as Hot Rod Therapy where veterans work on repairing and building vehicles or motorcycles. Stankiewicz’s main task is to assist the organization’s director Jason Zaideman in the organization of the shop. He has also learned skills related to basic vehicle repairs, welding, fabrication, and replacing engine mounts and rear brake rotors. “The thing I like most about my job is the camaraderie of the shop, everyone is always willing to help each other out and give solid advice,” said Stankiewicz.
OCB has hosted CPHS student interns since 2018. Zaideman works with each intern to craft their experience based on their particular career interests. “If they’re interested in marketing or retail or business management or customer service or mechanical skills or a list of many other skilled jobs, we probably have an area they can learn in,” he said. As a disabled veteran himself and a former US Army Combat Engineer, Zaideman says hosting a student is a win-win. While the student is learning new skills, it also gives veterans an opportunity to pass down knowledge and skills to a younger generation, to be appreciated and have someone learn from them.
Stankiewicz’s learning experience has been more significant than just mechanics. “I’ve always believed in supporting our veterans, but my internship has shown me how important it is to support veterans more and the struggles they go through,” he said. “I have more empathy towards their experiences now that I’ve heard their first-hand perspectives. After hearing about why some of the veterans came to OCB, I realize how important it is to have programs available to support veterans in dark times, as these programs are quite literally life-saving for them.”
Lake County Coroner’s Office
Reese Jones might be the only CPHS student to earn a “Congrats on surviving your first five autopsies” certificate. As an intern at the Lake County Coroner’s Office, Jones does on-site visits, helps answer phones, completes paperwork, and yes, assists with autopsies. “It’s time consuming,” said Jones, “but it helps bring closure to families. I have learned how much this job impacts the community and how important it is for society. There is a lot that goes into the job of working at the coroner’s office that people do not know about. I truly believe that everyone who works there deserves more recognition.”
Emily Jen is at Griffith Airport for her internship. Since she hopes to be a professional pilot, it’s a perfect fit. “I am learning how to fly and I’m working on earning all my pilot ratings,” she said. “I am really excited to pursue a career in aviation.” While at the airport, Jen is also learning to be a maintenance tech, attending the College of Aviation Maintenance.
Crown Point Fire and Rescue
The Crown Point Fire Department began hosting interns to promote vocational training and increase exposure of their department for high school students. “This program gives us an opportunity to open our doors to future firefighters,” said CP Fire Chief Mark Baumgardner. “It has given us a pipeline to bring in young adults.” As a result, the department has hired four former interns as full-time firefighters.
Each intern is assigned a mentor and they are treated like a new employee, going through the normal onboarding process and safety training. They are assigned to a shift for the remainder of the semester and ride along on all emergency calls with their mentor. “As time, training, and experience start to build, and at the discretion of their mentor, the intern will become more involved in department trainings and daily operations,” Baumgardner said.
Teagan Janson is a current intern with the department who has participated in training opportunities and accompanied fire trucks on calls. “This experience has been challenging yet rewarding and taught me a lot about firefighters’ safety measures when responding to real-life situations,” he said. “The Crown Point Fire and Rescue team has been supportive and helpful throughout my internship.” Janson plans to continue his postsecondary education to become an EMT.