Lynchburg students explore pre-graduation careers with new internship program | Local News

Lately, Micah Thomas, a senior at Heritage High School, is thinking about what he wants to pursue after graduation.






Beacon of Hope interns participated in a “bot war” at Framatome over the summer combining three types of engineering.


Photo provided


Before the end of his freshman year, he applied for a newly launched internship program run by Beacon of Hope, a non-profit organization that works with schools in the city of Lynchburg to ensure that every student reaches secondary education. .

Over the summer, he spent three weeks working with nuclear services company Framatome’s North American headquarters, based in Lynchburg, to learn what the company does and how the engineering works.

“This opportunity really enlightened me and gave me the opportunity to find out what I really wanted to do,” he said. “It was a very interesting experience.”

The internship program was open to EC Glass and Heritage high school students who were at least 16 years old.

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After word spread through schools, 90 students applied for 34 open spots at 13 partner companies, including Jamerson-Lewis Construction, Academy Center of the Arts, Framatome, Centra Health, CB Fleet and Lynchburg’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism as well as the city’s public works department.

Laura Hamilton, executive director of Beacon of Hope, said the idea came from a conversation on the board that wanted a pipeline of students to come from high school straight into the job market and fill jobs. vacant jobs. But companies complained that these children were unprepared.

“They don’t know how to email, how to dress, how to talk like an adult and they’re just thrown off. Of course they won’t succeed,” Hamilton said.

In an effort to eliminate this problem, the nonprofit created a three-week internship for students to work for pay – $13 an hour – at these various companies and explore career options.

Beacon of Hope created an application that was not merit-based and did not consider grades, receiving applicants with GPAs of 0.9 to 4.5.

Students ranked the top three companies they wanted to work with and were placed.

“It was almost like a college rush game,” Hamilton said. “And almost everyone got to where they needed to be.”

Prior to the internships, the students spent a week at Beacon of Hope taking photos, creating a LinkedIn profile and resumes, learning conflict management, and sending thank you emails.

Hamilton said at the end of the week they had a toolkit for success.

“And they deal with real world things,” she said. “Some went straight to work, like at Jamerson-Lewis, they built a hangar at the airport. Others alternated different positions.

She said it was fun to help bring the students into the real world.

“We’ve had several companies calling us saying, ‘Oh my God, these kids are better prepared than some of the adults coming in,'” she said. “That feeling was great, but it wasn’t all roses and unicorns. But at the end of the day, they’re our most engaged kids in schools right now. They’re showing up, their grades are going to be better, I know.

Kristin King, vice president of human resources at Centra Health, said the decision to host four of the students over the summer was an easy one. King said the healthcare system is open and welcoming to experiences that allow people to track or volunteer to learn about the various clinical and non-clinical positions available.

“When you look at workforce planning, it really starts at the student level when students start preparing for their potential future careers,” she said. “We thought it was an opportunity to really let those students in who are just starting to get their minds around career planning.”

The four students spent three weeks rotating between Lynchburg General Hospital and the Pearson Cancer Center learning about patient nutrition, nursing, laboratory work and patient check-in.

“So they could travel through the different fields and then at the end ideally come back with an even better idea, maybe not definitive, but have a better idea of ​​the different career options available,” she said.

Framatome welcomed 10 trainees and, divided into three teams, they took part in a Zumo Bot war competition. Each team was paired with a Framatome engineer mentor and the exercise combined electrical, mechanical and software engineering.

“Internships – at the high school and college level – are an important program for Framatome to develop a pipeline of emerging talent for the future of our business and our industry,” said Denise Woernle, Vice President of Communications and Marketing, in an email. . “As nuclear power gains momentum as a key player in achieving our nation’s clean energy goals, the industry is rife with opportunity within the existing fleet and advanced/new build reactors. We need to attract developing talent and early career candidates to ensure we have a strong and diverse talent pool. Working with “local” universities on our sites also allows us to attract talent and contribute to the development of potential employees likely to be inclined to stay and integrate into the areas where we live and work. Framatome is excited to create these meaningful internships to train our future workforce in Central Virginia. »

Thomas said he felt like the experience really helped him decide what he wanted to do after high school and what he wanted to study in college.

“It was a lot of fun, and also a great learning experience on how different fields of engineering come together and work together,” he said.

Like Thomas, Camden Roberts, another senior at Heritage, said he was undecided about what he wanted from a career and wanted to explore a company that did design work and was creative. So he spent three weeks with leather goods designer Moore & Giles.

Roberts learned the basics of leather and leather making and made a fanny pack and a belt.

“I realized I was now into sewing, which I didn’t know I was into,” he said. “I learned how much fun work can be and not just you go to work and it’s exhausting.”

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