High school internships and apprenticeships helping retain Nebraska talent

Many of these opportunities paid, offer credit
Posted at 6:53 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 19:53:35-04

OMAHA, Neb. — Education officials say the typical education system model of graduating high school, going to college and figuring it out as you go along is outdated. Those in the education field are encouraging students to start exploring their options with internships much sooner. Luckily, Nebraska has many opportunities available.

"We need to think about the path from high school to beyond, to be less linear than maybe we traditionally have," Westside High School principal Jay Opperman said.

Opperman says he's excited about the apprenticeships, internships and credit courses the school offers for students. Some of these opportunities are even paid.

"Our students can access welding apprenticeships, a form of internship, manufacturing apprenticeship or automotive tech apprenticeship," Opperman added.

Westside has been nationally recognized for its programs. Some of the opportunities are in house, and sometimes they rely on community partners like Avenue Scholars to get those opportunities to their students.

"People often think internships and think college or post-college...Our focus is starting in the high schools. It's helping to retain our talent," Avenue Scholars president and CEO Dr. Ken Bird said.

Avenue Scholars launched its Intern Omaha program in 2019. The program's main goal is to connect high school students to local paid internships, to continue to grow and advance the talent in Nebraska.

"We're in our third cohort of students now. We'll have over 105 plus employers, we'll have over 225 discrete internships," Bird said.

225 internships with small businesses and major corporations like Union Pacific, United Way and Werner Enterprises. Bird says getting that work experience to students early on and retaining great talent here in Nebraska is more important than ever.

Avenue Scholars recommend students reach out to their school counselors to get connected with internships.

Click here to learn more about Intern Omaha and their qualifications for the internships as well as additional information.