Internships offer career exploration and vital experience


Senior Sutter Portner (center) attends her internship at Marin General, wearing her uniform and badge.

Shannon Watridge

With the school year coming to a close, many students are scrambling to plan out their summers. Finding time to intern or volunteer is difficult when juggling a paying job, family vacation, and sports. However, students are often unaware of the internship programs provided by the Tam District (TUHSD). TUHSD offers an opportunity for students to demonstrate their talents and learn about potential careers, with the summer internship application due Friday, May 3rd at Redwood’s College and Career Center. The program offers a multitude of internships by partnering with local businesses, ranging from healthcare to engineering, and can also give students an advantage over other applicants in both college and job applications.

The Redwood Summer Internship Program packet, a booklet that can be found in the College and Career Center, explains that internships are an extremely valuable asset for a student’s future. According to the Redwood Summer Internship Packet, “The Internship Program offers students the opportunity to gain hands-on workplace skills and to test their academic knowledge in a ‘real world’ setting.”

Redwood internship expert, Greg Davison, works at the College and Career center every Tuesday and is a critical source of information for all students. He partners with local businesses to find the best options for students looking to expand their expertise.

“[Internships] are always evolving. We are always reaching out for more in the community,” Davison said. “We also offer job shadows and academies as we partner with the College of Marin, so when I have too many students for healthcare, we now have a couple of healthcare academies.”

Davison is not alone in regards to his advocacy for internships. Redwood senior Sutter Portner applied for a summer internship at Marin General after taking physiology her sophomore year. Through the internship, she found a passion for healthcare.

“[Internships are] a good way of knowing if you really want to do something because you are put directly into the work environment that you will possibly go into in the future,” Portner said.

Colleges may be the first to evaluate a student’s résumé, but they are not the only ones who appreciate high school internships.

Lupe Romo is the Senior Talent Acquisition Partner in the Human Resources department of Credit Karma, a company located in San Francisco. While Romo understands that there are certain roles students are not exposed to until college, he feels that internships are valuable in the college application process and benefit the student once they apply for jobs after college.

“That high school [internship] may enable [a student] to get into college. It can be the differentiator for the college for a degree that relates to the internship, so it’s almost a ripple effect in that sense,” Romo said.

He also believes that the workplace requires professionalism that is only acquired through experience.

“Having a sneak peek into that world at a high school level and anything that exposes you to that environment is totally beneficial to the high school student. Candidates will be looked at differently in terms of their investment in their development and whatever sets themselves apart,” Romo said.

Davison prepares students for meeting prospective employers by helping to write cover letters and conducting mock interviews and presentations about the particular internship. Summer interns are required to attend a weeklong College of Marin academy called Back to Evolutions where they learn about career options and create LinkedIn accounts. The students begin their internships on June 17 and are expected to complete a minimum of 52 hours on site by July 26. Davison can award students with high school credit depending on the amount of time invested in the internship.

Given only five to 10 percent of internships offer a salary, Davison understands that some students have limited opportunities to spend time working an unpaid internship. He believes that paying jobs are just as valuable.

“In this era, it is really important to realize that a job at Starbucks is just as good as some of my internships. Having that work experience is important,” Davison said. “My point is that every internship is going to be what you put into it and it’s a great experience but you need to make that effort to be self-accountable. I expect students to own it, not [their] parents and each individual will bring a unique skill set and perspective.”

According to Davison, hundreds of students have used Redwood’s internship program, many of them discovering fields of interest they want to pursue. Portner expresses immense gratitude for her internship and recommends that students follow in her footsteps.

“I say just go for it. You don’t have to have a certain career in mind. It’s just something fun. Something you can apply to your resume for college and jobs where it looks really good. It’s just what you make out of it,” Portner said.