By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
The first group of interns will soon be out the door at Great Bend High School. Last year, ACT and Career Coordinator Lacy Wolters began working with local businesses, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, Great Bend Economic Development, Kansas Workforce One, and Barton Community College to develop the Internship Program. Thirteen GBHS seniors are now participating in round one of the program.
"We wanted input from all of these organizations that are involved in workforce," Wolters said. "We met monthly last fall to look at state guidance for the internship program, then we used that to create our program. We received board approval last February. From there, we started promoting and looking for businesses that wanted to host an intern."
Wolters also began looking for possible student candidates among last year's junior class. Last spring, students were matched to local businesses based on classes, career fit, and future plans. The students had interviews with the businesses, who ultimately decided whether to bring on the interns.
"We're really hoping this is good for them to see those specific industry skills, like if they're with HVAC or health care, but also those skills that are non-industry specific," Wolters said. "The communication skills and teamwork, and all of those things, we also think will be very beneficial for them as they go through the program."
The students intern at local businesses during school hours, usually for about 75 minutes a day. Some of the afternoon interns may stay on for more hours as paid, part-time workers. For the first year, students applied first and were matched later to businesses. Wolters hopes to reverse that in the future, setting up a list of interested businesses for which students can then apply.
"Really we're hoping this starts that relationship that eventually gets long-term between the student and business," she said. "A lot of these students may go to school somewhere, but we're hoping they come back, whether that's over the summer or long term. Some of them may even stay with a business."
Wolters plans to begin bringing businesses onboard next month, then the intern application process will be held in early 2023.
"Any business that is interested, be on the lookout," she said. "More information will be coming out to them with the application. I'll be hosting some online webinars to answer some questions, too. Really, we're encouraging any businesses - not just Great Bend, it can be Barton County, too - if they're interested I'd be happy to meet with them virtually or in person, just to help answer any questions they might have."
Business owners wanting to get involved in the Internship Program, or with questions about the program, can email Wolters at [email protected].