The future might be a little more clear for 10 Jamestown High School seniors who participated in a semester-long internship program.
The students celebrated completion of the program Thursday with a presentation to teachers, employers and parents. The students worked 60 hours at area businesses and agencies using school time in addition to seminars with JHS career counselors.
"I learned that I like helping people and I want to stay in the hospital setting," said Catlyn Rapp, a JHS senior who interned with Family BirthPlace at Jamestown Regional Medical Center. "I am changing my major to biology and plan to become an anesthesiologist."
At JRMC, Rapp and fellow intern Emily Ash observed procedures including cesarean and natural births and watched or helped perform blood pressure and other tests on newborns in addition to working in the Wound Center.
The biggest takeaway for the students was the amount of charting that is involved in the medical field, said Emily Woodley, Family BirthPlace manager. The amount of paperwork and regulations that nurses follow is an eye-opener, she said.
"This program is unique in the students having more hours to get more variety of work and see a bigger portion of what it would be like in the real life of a nurse, CNA or nurse practitioner," Woodley said.
Laura Levin worked in the JRMC Emergency Department. The experience changed her goal to become a trauma surgeon and has since been accepted to a pre-med program in Utah.
McKenna Becker said her internship with Dr. Dawn's Pet Stop confirmed her goal to become a large animal veterinarian. Her experience included 4-H presentations and observing animal treatments and surgeries.
"McKenna performed different tasks and had different challenges to work," said owner Dr. Dawn Entzminger. "It works out great because what we are giving her to learn about is also helping us in the office."
Becker said the interns maintained a journal and made a PowerPoint presentation before answering panel questions in the class. The students took quizes related to career searching, she said.
The work setting allows students to learn as much as possible about a profession before committing to job training, a technical or community college, or a four-year university, said JHS Principal Adam Gehlhar. The decision is made having reflected on real-world experience, he said.
"This is real 21st century education," Gehlhar said.
Breean Hanson worked at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and said it confirmed a goal to become a research wildlife biologist.
Aaron Mack and Jameson Holgerson interned at Collins Aerospace and said they learned that engineering is about processes that involve meeting customer expectations through constant interaction, taking a partial product through safety and regulatory certifications.
"It was a good opportunity for the students and for us to help out with the high school and we welcome the experience," said Matt Webster, engineering manager at Collins Aerospace. "We exposed them to all the different engineering aspects from test engineering, mechanical and electrical, manufacturing quality and software."
Kenneth Gardner, the JHS instructor who oversaw the internship program, said the value of the internships most often confirms a student's interest in a given field, but is just as important when the students find the inside view is not the image they had from a distance.
"A few said they are glad they did this because they thought of something as an idea for career or profession and learned that it isn't for them," Gardner said.
Ethan Bowman interned at New Age Fitness and said the experience of developing relationships with clients to help them meet goals was great. The internship experience made him more interested in sports medicine as a career.
Katie Osborne, an intern at Stutsman County Extension Office, said conducting soybean samplings and working with 4-H classes was a great. But her interests are moving more toward teaching.
"Overall it was a good experience and Alicia (Harstad, Extension agent) was a really good teacher," Osborne said.
This is an opportunity that students don't often get until late in college, said Robert Lech, superintendent of Jamestown Public School District. The willingness of community partners to help young people have this invaluable experience is "amazing," he said.
"The students I spoke with could very easily communicate the values of the organizations they worked with and how the different responsibilities they performed shaped their belief system for the profession," Lech said.