Gaining hands-on experience at a company has always served as an invaluable learning tool for students. Creating these opportunities through NH high school internships requires developing a partnership between a school and a business and then crafting a model that helps ensure the model is mutually beneficial.
The Making Community Connections (MC2) Charter School recently established several partnerships with companies in the hospitality sector in New Hampshire. These partnerships are enabling students to access diverse professional opportunities in this growing field.
MC2 Charter School promotes NH high school internships
Based in Manchester, the MC2 Charter School requires that high school students undertake NH high school internships during each academic year.
As a charter school, they focus on self-directed learning as a primary academic component. Their appetite for these internships grew after participating in New Hampshire Hospitality Month in April, which was coordinated by the NH Restaurant and Lodging Association (NHRLA) and further promoted through the NH Sector Partnerships Initiative (SPI).
Wil Crabtree, the internship coordinator at MC2, connected with Amie Pariseau, the SPI advisor for the hospitality sector and director of education and workforce development at NHLRA, to inquire about possible partners. He wanted to add more hospitality-related internships to MC2’s offerings since more students were showing interest in the field. This led to three new partnerships with two restaurants and a hotel – Fratello’s Restaurant, The Hanover Street Chop House and the Holiday Inn at the Manchester Airport. All three were willing to put together internships that met MC2’s project-based learning requirements.
“These internship opportunities are really good because they give students the chance to explore career paths that they do not really understand. It gives them a chance to learn from doing, which important because even though they are teenagers, they can work in professional environments with adults. It also helps them develop skills that they wouldn’t have in a classroom setting. They gain a lot of confidence starting with the interview experience,” Crabtree said.
Matching students with the right opportunities
Aligning students with the internship is critical to having a successful experience.
First, students select an area of interest and then the school looks for partners where students can go on site. Students go through an interview process, just like a prospective employee. If accepted, they will work onsite on Tuesdays and Thursdays and are responsible for completing a specific project. To track progress, students keep reflection journals.
Lillie Nelson is an MC2 high school student who is currently in a rotation internship at the Holiday Inn. A typical day for her normally includes a wide variety of projects, such as working at the front desk, cleaning, painting and maintenance. The goal with an internship like this one is for Lillie to learn about this potential career path and see if it is an industry she might want to pursue in the future.
Lillie said she realized it is a lot more complex of a business than she originally thought. She didn’t realize how much work is put into keeping a hotel running. Though this experience is much different than she expected, she likes it. “The environment and the people are so nice! They are so respectful and playful and know each other so well. They love what they do and they work extremely hard,” she said.
Thomas Anderson, general manager at the Holiday Inn said that Lillie has been a great asset.
“Each department at the hotel can use a helping hand and Lillie has done just that. From helping the maintenance team get the benches freshly painted for the summer to helping the front desk with filing paperwork, each day Lillie comes in we have a new task for her to learn and an opportunity to learn from her. Every time we train a new employee, we have a chance to improve our procedures, and every time Lillie comes in, we get that chance to improve. It’s a great program and something I wish I could have taken part in while I was in high school,” he said.
Making connections between businesses and schools to help build or raise awareness of career opportunities is central to the work of SPI across the five sectors it serves – manufacturing, technology, healthcare, construction and hospitality. The experience Lillie is having and the work of NHRLA to help MC2 find and build relationships that lead to a quality learning opportunity at a business is just one of many examples of a successful partnership through which everyone benefits.