The Apprentice Approach

Internships and co-ops offer a chance to check out life in the working world

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Do you ever wonder what your dream job would actually be like in the real world? Sure, being a prosecuting attorney may look exciting on “Law & Order,” but what do lawyers really do? Maybe you dream about being a surgeon but wonder: Is it really worth going through seven years of medical school? (Answer: Definitely!)

But think about this: Did you know that you can test out professions while you are in high school?

Most students (and teachers) would agree that the best way to learn about something is by actually doing it. Many Kentucky high schools offer academic internship programs where students can learn about careers by working with real professionals.

One such program, Experience Based Career Education (EBCE), allows students to “tour” a career. For three hours a day, four days a week, students work at a job site under the guidance of an experienced professional. Not only does this person provide instruction for the job, they explain what it’s really like: the advantages and disadvantages, and how the job affects family responsibilities, leisure time, active citizenship and lifelong learning.

If your school doesn’t offer EBCE, most high schools offer cooperative programs (co-op) that are similar to EBCE. Students are paid to work at a local business of their choice during school hours. Most schools only require that you be a junior or senior and take a few business courses to qualify. If you’re wondering if a certain career is right for you, co-op is a great way to test it out, and get paid in the process.

Co-op opportunities don’t end in high school. Colleges offer co-op programs as well, but instead of just giving you a taste of different careers, college co-op allows you to gain paid experience in your field of study. And previous work experience is the factor with the highest correlation to success in the job market. Co-op is an easy way to gain valuable knowledge beyond what you can learn from a textbook and in class – and that gives you a leg up on getting a job after you graduate.

Knowing what career is right for you can be difficult; your dream job isn’t going to drop out of the sky. Co-op opportunities are there to make your transition into the ‘real world’ that much easier. Real-life experience will give you the edge to landing the job you want.
Some of the career fields available to try through EBCE:
• architecture
• engineering
• law
• pharmacy
• veterinary medicine
• education
• technology
• medicine
• interior design


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