Internships giving students a glimpse into the real job world

Published 9:48 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

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By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Four afternoons a week, Davie High senior Angel Fearrington heads to her internship at Hillsdale Real Estate Group, where she’s putting her interests in video editing, graphic design, and photography to work creating marketing videos and graphics for the company’s social media.

As a high school student with no work experience, she thought it was important to gain some before graduating. An internship gives students a chance to figure out what they might want to do. It also allows them to establish connections that may serve as potential resources or references.

This fall, Fearrington  plans to study video editing at Davidson-Davie Community College through the Ignite Davie College Promise program.

Cam Beck is interning at the Davie Family YMCA. He will attend NC State this fall and plans to major in sports management. He hopes to own a gym someday and appreciates the opportunity to learn the different aspects of the business.

“It’s been a  good opportunity to learn the basics of business and health, wellness, and working out. Getting to learn all of these things has confirmed that this is what I want to do. I enjoy going to work and learning the things I will need to know to thrive. An internship is definitely helpful; you get to learn, earn credit, and gain experience.”

Alyse Wooldridge, Davie High’s new career development coordinator (CDC), agrees, knowing firsthand the positive impact an internship can have on shaping future careers.

While a student at Davie High, she interned in Sheila Tribble’s business education classroom at South Davie, which led to her own career in education. She taught business classes at the high school for 13 years before transitioning into the CDC position in July 2021, following Janet Barnes’ retirement in December 2020.   

A passion for work-based learning topped her reasons for taking the new job.

“As a student, I found the importance of work-based learning and knew that with the CDC position, I would have the opportunity to help students determine career goals, match them with internships, and help make the whole world of education come together for the final outcome,” she said.

“Being in the classroom, I already knew many of the students and what they wanted to do. So I looked at their class schedules, and if they had openings, especially seniors, I called them up to discuss their career goals and whether they were interested in an internship.”

Then she started calling people.

“I am from Davie County, my parents and grandparents are here, my family owns Caudell Lumber Co., so I am very invested in this community. I know a lot of business owners and have developed a lot of contacts. So I reached out to them and told them we had students interested in positions and asked them if they would be willing to host interns. Other than a few who couldn’t employ anyone under 18, most of the businesses I have spoken to have been very open to it.”

A Davie High student taking welding classes at Davidson-Davie Community College was interested in an internship, so Wooldridge called Phil Fuller at Fuller Welding and Fabricators. “I’ve known Phil for a long time and asked if he had any interest, and we were able to place an intern there this semester.”

A student interested in masonry and carpentry was able to intern with Smith & Company Custom Homes & Remodeling. “I knew Mike and Dawn through the lumber company, and they were excited to continue teaching the trade to someone.”

Another student who thinks she might be interested in cosmetology is working at Sarah Ashley Salon. “Internships are great because they help you determine whether you do or don’t like doing something.”

COVID has been a barrier for many healthcare-related internships, so Wooldridge appreciates Mocksville Senior Living and Bermuda Village’s willingness to work with students, train them, and allow them into their facilities despite COVID.

Internships can be paid or unpaid and are offered during the first and second semesters and over the summer. Students can intern during the school day, after school, or the weekend, whatever their schedule allows.

A student must be a junior or senior and have completed at least one level one CTE course. To receive high school credit, students must complete 120 contact hours for a regular internship or 135 hours for an honors internship. To further enhance the experience, interns complete a micro-credential for soft skills and create a resume and portfolio so that they have something that will help them build their career at the end of the internship.

Interns also plan and execute a project to benefit the company they are working for. For instance, Fearrington is shooting a “Welcome to Davie County” video for Hillsdale Real Estate Group and Beck is designing a boot camp course for the YMCA.

“The project component of the internship is valuable for the students. The project allows the student to invest in their internship host’s business and take pride in helping their internship site,” said Wooldridge.

This school year, 23 students have interned at 18 local companies. Wooldridge would love for many more to have the opportunity. The word about the value of internships is getting out among students. Although it is still early in the registration process, she already has 23 interested in internships next year. Now she needs the businesses.

“We appreciate all of the businesses that have partnered with us so far and are always looking for additional partners.”

She pointed out that internships are a win-win. Not only does the student gain work experience and the opportunity to take what’s being learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world, but the business has the chance to help cultivate the next generation workforce and perhaps meet a future employee.

Wooldridge encourages all businesses to consider offering an internship, but if that isn’t possible, to consider providing students with job shadowing opportunities for a day or two. For companies that may be worried about liability, she pointed out that the school system’s insurance covers the students, so they don’t need to worry about opening up their doors.   

Businesses that may not think they have anything to offer a student may be pleasantly surprised. Just ask Dawn Creason.

“When Mrs. Wooldridge first contacted us, we simply weren’t sure what we would have an intern do for us. Hillsdale Real Estate Group has been a proud supporter of our local teachers and students. We even dedicate a portion of every closing to a scholarship fund we have at the Davie Community Foundation, but we’re a real estate brokerage—most of what we do requires a professional license.

“But Mrs. Wooldridge encouraged us to think out of the box and even suggested a specific student interested in video editing. Certainly, we could see how someone with experience editing videos could be helpful for a group of people hired to sell houses.

“More than that, we’re so glad Angel is getting some on-the-job experience to help her further develop and practice her passion. She’s doing amazing work for us—from short social media videos to larger projects still in the works and even some graphic design work. Hopefully, it’s a win-win for everyone—we’ve been able to tackle some fun projects that we might not otherwise dedicate the time or resources to doing, and she’s learning and honing her already excellent editing and design skills.”

To learn more about setting up an internship program for students in Davie, contact Wooldridge at 336-751-5905 or You can also follow the CTE program on Facebook @DCHSCTE, Instagram @DAVIE_CTE, and Twitter @DAVIECTE. pany Custom Homes & Remodeling Inc., shows the list of businesses that offered CTE internships this year.