CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- on Thursday, students in the Washington High School leadership class presented their Capstone Projects to members of West Virginia American Water to complete their participation in The Education Alliance’s West Virginia Ready Internship pilot program. Throughout this semester, students learn problem-solving skills through a capstone project on “How to extend a water mainline” as part of their mentoring and internship course with West Virginia American Water.
The Education Alliance launched the WV Ready Internship Program in 2019 by placing high school juniors and seniors as interns with West Virginia businesses to develop career readiness. Due to COVID-19, the program transitioned to a school-based, semester-long Virtual Internship course and expanded this semester to five new schools. It provides virtual job shadowing and training at 9 different businesses across West Virginia and matches each school with a business mentor to cultivate employability skills. Students earn graduation credit upon successful completion of the course. The program will continue to expand to serve more of the state’s soon-to-be graduates, with the eventual goal being to expand statewide.
“We are grateful to West Virginia American Water for partnering with us again to provide career development and mentoring for students in this innovative program,” said Dr. Amelia Courts, president, and chief executive officer of The Education Alliance. “By providing virtual job shadowing and work-based learning experiences during the school day, the WV Ready Internship Program is truly a life-changing experience. I want to thank the Washington High School and West Virginia American Water for their collaboration to enable students to become ‘WV Ready Graduates’ who are ready for success after high school.”
“As one of the state’s largest environmental business leaders, we believe in providing these types of educational opportunities for our next generation of water and wastewater industry employees,” said Robert Burton, president of West Virginia American Water. “Our team believes education is the foundation for a bright future, and it is an honor to work with the Education Alliance to inspire students to explore STEM careers for the next generation of West Virginia.”
The course consists of weekly virtual business-led job shadowing, training modules, and business mentoring calls, along with a capstone project assigned by participating businesses.
Katilin Grantham teaches Washington High School's leadership class. She said they worked on their capstone project twice a week with the team at WV American Water.
"They gave us our scenarios, they provided us with information, materials, with how much certain things would cost."
As part of their capstone project, students from Washington High School have been paired with West Virginia American Water to learn about career opportunities in the water industry, including safety, engineering, customer service, external affairs, and human resources. The interns reported the training, mentoring, and capstone experience to be a pivotal step toward their future careers. Grantham said those meetings gave students a chance to learn more about different types of careers they might one day pursue.
"Every Wednesday we would meet with a person employed in a different sector of American Water. We've met with several different people over the last ten weeks or so who have just given us insight into their job and what they do. "
The WV Ready Internship program is made possible with generous support from American Electric Power Foundation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing WV, the AT&T Foundation, and the Steeley Foundation. To learn more about the program, visit EducationAlliance.org.