Hamburg High School Interns gain head start on finding career path

The Crossroads Group LLC. President Jeremiah Hoagland, right front, serves as the internship mentor for Hamburg seniors Zachary Moser, left, and Ethan Adam.
The Crossroads Group LLC. President Jeremiah Hoagland, right front, serves as the internship mentor for Hamburg seniors Zachary Moser, left, and Ethan Adam. Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media

Ten Hamburg Area High School students are getting a head start on finding their career paths through the internship program.

“The students get a taste of the real world,” said Hamburg Area School District Career Education Specialist Clare Kilpatrick Benz. “They are able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it here in a professional setting.”

On the job lessons include office protocol, what do when there’s bad weather, and writing an office memo, as well as learning skills specific to a job field.

“That’s the type of thing you don’t necessarily learn in school but it’s a real-world item,” said Benz.

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When placing a student at an internship site, Benz said they try to keep the student’s interests in mind, taking into consideration their class schedule and the availability of the intern mentor. The student earns two class credits for participating in the internship program. Participation in the program is not required for graduation.

Hamburg School District started the internship program last year to give engineering students further educational opportunities. This year the program has expanded beyond the engineering field. Students enrolled in professional field experience spend several hours for a couple days a week at host companies that range from engineering-related companies to family businesses.

The Crossroads Group LLC. President Jeremiah Hoagland serves as the internship mentor for Hamburg seniors Ethan Adam and Zachary Moser, who have been interning at the civil engineering, surveying and land development firm in Hamburg since fall. This is Crossroads Group’s second year participating in the Hamburg High School internship program.

“I like that it gives the students an accurate depiction of what the work place environment is, specifically for civil engineering and land surveying and what that really means in the real world beyond the college education and the background, foundational studies that they have to do,” said Hoagland. “How is it applied day to day.”

Hoagland hopes the internship experience influences the students to either discover that civil engineering is a career they want or not.

“Either way, I’m happy to help guide them to where they believe they want to go,” he said. “It really gives them good insight into what the job is going to entail, what it means to be in an office setting, how to interact... get a vibe for the industry.”

Hoagland finds working with high schoolers to be refreshing.

“They have the deer-in-the-headlights look when they first start and just the attitude that they bring as they open up and they start to be more themselves is a breath of fresh air to everybody to see that youthful wonder and then learning and going through the year and seeing what they can do and what they are capable of doing, it’s really neat. It’s really satisfying,” he said.

Hoagland would recommend other businesses serve as intern mentors.

“It’s a great program,” he said. “Just knowing we’re helping is a benefit. I also hope that one day these students come back and stay in touch. Help guide them into what they want to do and maybe one day come back and work for us. That would be fantastic.”

The students gain professional experience while still in high school.

“They have a leg up on virtually everybody going to college. They’ve already been in an office setting. They’ve already interned,” said Hoagland. “Usually it’s juniors and seniors in college who get that experience. They’re getting it at 16, 17 years old.”

Hamburg seniors Zachary Moser, 18, and Ethan Adam, 17, talked about their internship experience. They are creating plans for a mock addition to the Crossroads Group building. They spend about six hours a week at their internship.

“We’re learning about civil engineering along the way,” said Moser. “We’re really learning a lot. It’s a good experience definitely, before college even. Because most kids have to wait for an internship until later in college.”

The internship helped Moser see that he does not want to pursue civil engineering as his career path, so he is going to continue his search, likely mechanical engineering.

“But it is really interesting to learn what civil engineering is... to reassure myself it’s not what I want to do,” said Moser. “I honestly had no idea what it was like to be in a professional environment.”

Adam does want to pursue a career in the civil engineering field.

“I definitely enjoy that we get to see before we get out of high school and into the real world and we get to see what’s waiting for us,” said Adam. “I get to see what kind of work I’m going to be doing and what the environment’s like.”

Adam has always been interested in building structures and bridges. The internship helped reinforce his decision to pursue civil engineering.

“Now I’m pretty positive that this is what I want to do,” he said.

Mosher recommends other students participate in the internship program.

“It’s definitely a good experience no matter what kind of engineering you’re looking for. It can really reassure what you want to do or you could wind up liking something else, so if you get the opportunity, definitely check it out, the internship program,” said Mosher.

Other Hamburg High School interns include Jacob Barr at M. J. Electric, Zachary Barrall at Solar Innovations, Erisa Sloan at American Music Theatre, Kalyn Furry at Dunkin’ Donuts, Isaac Galloway at Journey Café, Haley Geiger at Fastener Place, Jack Lewis at Jack’s Supply, and Patrick McElwee at the Reading Fire Marshall’s office.

“There’s a good variety,” said Benz. “They get to test out a field; they’re not committing to it before they start that major or go on to train.”

Benz said the internship experience is also something that looks good on a college application or job application.

“That they have experience... and know that’s what they want to do,” she said.

Employers interested in learning more about Hamburg Area’s Professional Field Experience, can contact Career Education Specialist Clare Kilpatrick Benz, at 610-562-2241, ext. 2145

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.