ON THE JOB: CCHS students get an indepth look at careers

COLUMBIA CITY — “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For high school juniors and seniors, this is a daunting question. With graduation looming in the near future, college and career choices become critical for students. But trying to make a decision with little to no real-life experience in a particular field of interest can make the selection stressful.Laying the ground workJudy Moore, Columbia City High School’s director of Career Development and Internships saw the need for students to get first hand experience in certain careers.She, along with another teacher, developed the Professional Career Internship Program in 1998 and CCHS became one of the first schools in Indiana to offer such a program.The program is open to junior and seniors and is designed to give them an inside look at the ins and outs of specific careers. Students spend 10 weeks with their mentors and are not paid a wage for their services, however, there is a financial benefit.The program, which started at CCHS, became the front runner for other programs throughout the state. The program was so successful, the Indiana Department of Education asked Moore to have a hand in writing the program guidelines. Now the program has grown to become one of the largest and respected programs in the state.Jared Lamle is a junior at CCHS and has chosen to take on an internship in the agricultural field. His interest in the agriculture business formed a new mentor relationship with Northeast Purdue Agriculture Center.For Lamle, working with the Ag Center is a chance to gain knowledge that not only tests his interest in the field, but allows for him to apply it to his family business.Phil Walker is the professional mentoring Lamle, the first high school intern he has had on site. Although having Lamle on site has meant a little extra planning on Walker’s part, the time has been well spent for both of them.From a mentors’ perspectiveEighty-six students will join the internship program in the spring and 106 different companies will provide mentors. Some of these business are opening up their doors to high school interns for the first time. Moore said there is an on-site visit to ensure the workplace is safe and meets the program’s standards.Lori Gagen is the executive director for Black Pine Animal Sanctuary. She previously mentored students through CCHS’s program. In a note of thanks, Gagen wrote these words to Moore:“I want to thank you for your dedication and commitment to this program, to the interns and us. Chandra (a CCHS student) and CCHS are extraordinary, in our experience. I just wanted to say thanks very much. Your time and attention to help us make sure the interns receive a real world experience is greatly appreciated.”“Discovering what you do not like is as valuable as confirming what you do like. That’s why this program is so beneficial for students, now more than ever.”For a more in depth look at this story, see the Dec. 18 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.