by Carter Braun ‘23
Rather than taking the common seven-class schedule required at Sherwood for underclassmen, an increasing number of seniors participate in internship programs that allow them to take only their classes required for graduation, and work a paid or unpaid job elsewhere for part of the school day. According to internship coordinator Catina Wist, around 65 seniors are in the internship program she oversees, and approximately another 35 are combined in three other school programs. The total number of seniors with internships accounts for approximately 22 percent of this year’s Senior Class.
The internship program that Wist oversees is designed for students to be directly involved for a defined period of time in a career or field of study, while providing students with an opportunity to apply what has been learned at school to the working world. The intention of these internships can range from the Class of 2022 student who interned at an applied physics lab at Johns Hopkins with aspirations to become an astrophysicist, to a student working at a local restaurant, hoping to go down the culinary path. The other objective of internship programs is for students to develop and practice skills that they might not have in a classroom setting.
Taking an internship can allow students to gain an understanding of the outside world and the workforce, putting them in more “real-life” situations as opposed to those that are present in school. Many of these internships are in close proximity to the Olney area, with about 75 percent of the current internships being located within ten miles of the center of town. However, by missing around half of the school day, students can potentially miss out on valuable class time. Wist said that she wants to see students fill their schedule with meaningful experiences, whether it be an internship or a full course schoolday.
Senior Ishan Desai works for a wealth manager in Brookeville. As an assistant, Desai gets paid for updating the website, quality checking stock purchases, and creating road maps for individual clients. With this internship, Desai works Monday-Thursday after completing his four class half-day schedule. Desai is unsure whether or not he would like to pursue this path in college, yet cites how it can be a great experience to figure out what he likes about working the job.
“I have learned professionalism, communication skills in the real world and the workplace, and business ethics,” Desai noted. “No matter where my career takes me, those are things that are necessary wherever I go and whatever I do.”
Resource counselor Kelly Singleton believes that many colleges, particularly selective ones, would like to see the internship align with a possible career interest. She gave examples of an applied physics internship for a student interested in engineering, or an NIH internship for a student interested in the sciences.
“I want to see the students fill their schedule with meaningful experiences, whether it be an internship or a full course load,” Singleton added. “I usually advise students to pursue internships that will give them experience in a field of interest to them or a field they are considering pursuing in college.”
Students interested in an internship must find the opportunity on their own before senior year begins or they may meet with the internship coordinator for assistance to choose where to intern. As long as students are able to fulfill their requirements for graduation, the decision to apply for an internship is entirely up to them. The school administration is not involved in approving or disapproving a student’s internship, and Wist determines whether to accept a student into the general internship program.
In the case of the Medical Science program led by Keri Sykora, the Business Education program taught by Margaret Lynch, and the childhood development program directed by Nicole Schneider, students interested in an internship have narrowed their field of study down significantly and are left with more specific career-oriented internship opportunities.