Written by Ashley Bradt, Leader of our High School Internship Program
Wow! I feel like I blinked and we are already on our last month of training classes for the High School Intern Program! Since January, we have been training twenty wonderful, highly motivated students from all over the tri-county area. These twenty students were chosen from a pool of around a hundred applicants. Throughout the training classes, they have been tasked with team building activities, building a resume and a cover letter, learning basic biology and taxonomy, practicing interview skills, giving an oral presentation, and completing a large homework assignment. Their will to learn and motivation to succeed is so refreshing to me. Each training class has been unique and challenging in its own way. We have gone to Riverbanks Zoo, gone canoeing in a black water swamp, and gone crabbing in the salt marsh. After the training classes are over, only ten students will be chosen for a competitive, 8 week, paid summer job at the South Carolina Aquarium. It will be a difficult decision for us to make.
I am an Education Interpreter III at the SC Aquarium and I wear many different “hats” when it comes to my job. I can honestly say that, hands down, my favorite part of my job is leading the High School Intern Program with my partner in crime and co-worker, Marzio Gillis. It is extremely rewarding to be able to share my passion for the environment and marine biology with young people that are also interested in science and animals. It is so great to be able to have a small part in their career path and lead them towards bigger and better things for their future. All of the students that are in the grant funded program must qualify for free and reduced lunch. This gives underprivileged students who are interested in science a chance to get experience in this field. Nine times out of ten internships and experience in this field are only gained through volunteering. The fact that these kids can get experience and make money at the same time is extremely valuable to their future. Most of these kids need a job during the summer and cannot afford to get experience for free. Not only are we influencing their future career plans, but we are also sharpening their basic life skills which is imperative to their success later on in life. It is my honor to be able to lead this program and work closely with Marzio to help shape these student’s futures.