For part of this summer, we had a high school intern in our Civil group at my office. He did a great job, and it was encouraging to see his willingness to learn. Prior to that, we'd had some high school students in the office a couple hours a week for a few weeks or a semester as part of their coursework. We've also had high school classes visit our office to learn about what we do, and a few of us have helped with high school mock interviews.
Recently, I've had the chance to meet with the career counselors at a couple of the local high schools, and we are going to be starting a more formal high school program for during the school year.
Something interesting that one of the counselors mentioned is that in the last few years, college admissions has changed significantly. In an effort to have a more holistic approach to admissions, test scores carry less weight than they used to, and activities like shadowing and externships/internships are more important.
I'm looking for any input on high school outreach.
-Have you had high school interns in your office? Do you have any successes or lessons learned to share?
-Have you done any outreach in the local schools? What did you do, and did you feel it was beneficial?
To anyone that hasn't looked into outreach opportunities with colleges or pre-college students, I would highly recommend checking it out. The best way to reduce a future industry shortage is to start today.
Its great to hear that you've had positive experiences Heidi. I certainly think that there are a number of upper grade high school students with comparable excel and word skills as some lower grade undergraduate students. I have not had the opportunity to work with or recruit any high school students for an internship myself, but I do believe that we have certain tasks that they could effectively support parts of.
Remove the term internship. Offer the opportunity as a part-time job.
I was in AutoCAD class as a high school junior, when a classmate offered me the opportunity to interview as a miscellaneous steel detailer. That summer I worked full time during the week and as a beach parking lot attendant on the weekends... yup all 7 days unless it rained that weekend!
During my senior year I had completed enough credits to graduate... I could sign up for more electives, study hall, or video production.... but there was a third option... work release!! I was able to leave early on certain days to work. The program was typically used to get students involved with the trades, but it worked out well for me.
During college I commuted and scheduled as many morning classes as I could. I would finish the day at the office. Upon graduation, I shifted my practice from detailing to engineering. I am still with the company over 20 years later.
Visit the schools. Talk to the teachers. There are more protocols today than in the past, but email and such can overcome those. If you provide opportunity for growth and engaging work, there is no reason that engaging with high schoolers would not be mutually beneficial. High schoolers graduate as adults, if your expectations are for them to enter the field as young professionals... make that clear, support them.... and let them surprise you!