When Emma Campbell began planning how to spend her summer, one thing was clear: To drive to the stables to go riding and get to and from home and her gym, she’d need to buy a lot of gas for her car, and to do that — she’d need a job. After finishing her junior year at Coventry High School, a large public school in Rhode Island, she figured her best shot at summer employment would be at Dunkin’ Donuts, or maybe a local coffee shop. But then she received an email from her guidance counselor about a new summer internship program that connected high schoolers from across the state with paid internships in local businesses, and the idea of pouring coffee all summer was dumped.
Working in an office instead of a restaurant “would probably be a much better experience,” said Campbell, who is 17 and dreams of becoming a scientist. Even so, the prospect of spending the summer working alongside seasoned professionals terrified her.
Luckily, the internship program, called Prepare Rhode Island, was designed to anticipate the nervousness a student like Campbell might experience — as well as the inevitable host of faux pas, communication disconnects and other workplace etiquette snafus that can occur when teenagers enter professional work settings. To help ward off such problems, the program featured an orientation and interview process to carefully match students with local businesses. Next, and perhaps most importantly, the 162 students who made the cut attended a five-day boot camp in which they learned crucial workplace skills such as goal setting, effective communication, teamwork, public speaking, conflict resolution and critical thinking.
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