By Shian Omar | Features EditorPearce seniors gain experience in professional environments by interning at various locations in Dallas for a semester. This is accomplished through the Professional Internship Program, a district-sponsored program that selects motivated students to participate.
To get into the program, high-achieving juniors need to fill out an application in the spring and go to an interview.
If they are accepted, they will intern at a professional location related to their career choice either the first or second semester of their senior year and work at least eight hours a week.
“It is a program for students to get hands-on experience in a career field of their interest while earning credit towards graduation,” Pearce PIP coordinator Cherie DePuy said.
Spending several hours a week working somewhere for free pays off in the long run when a student decides whether or not this job will be for him.
“This program gives the student a chance to test-drive a career,” Mrs. DePuy said. “Some are surprised to discover they hate doing the day-to-day work of their chosen career field.”
However, this experience gives them the opportunity to clarify one of the biggest decisions of their lives and work toward making the correct decision for college.
“But, what a blessing to make this discovery before they have spent thousands of dollars on college classes in the subject,” Mrs. DePuy said.
Aside from the initial interview of getting into the program, most students need to have an interview with potential sponsors before they start their internships.
“The most valuable thing I have learned from the class is preparing for the job interview and how to talk to people at work,” intern Yeonju Park said.
Intern Joe Swiney is working as a forensic accountant at Farmer, Fuqua, and Huff P.C.
“Forensic accounting has to deal with a lot of business interactions and the money that is transferred between companies,” Joe said. “My internship deals a lot with the family law side and the financial situations involved in that.”
He analyzes financial documents, edits Word and Excel documents, and works directly under the boss. “At times I dislike some of the work I am doing, but I know when I actually become my own boss I’ll be more involved with the things that interest me most,” Joe said. “So far, my experience had made me want to pursue my field more because of the first-hand experiences I encounter every day.”
Students have been placed in a variety of locations.
Some include Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Ameristar Jet, Texas Star Pharmacy, Circuitco, Hope Cottage Adoption Agency, Texas Jewish Post, accounting firms and the City of Richardson.
“Finding internships is a joint effort between the students, community connections with the district, staff, former PIP sponsors, parents and teachers,” Mrs. DePuy said.
Yeonju Park is interning as a graphic designer at the Texas Jewish Post, where she helps make covers for stories and ads.
“I am really glad to be in PIP because not only do I do what I like to do, but I am learning additional information about the Jewish culture and journalism,” Yeonju said.
The program is now located on all four Richardson ISD high school campuses and has four coordinators instead of the sole district coordinator in previous years. This allows growth in the program and more focus on the students selected.
“The students in the program are all highly motivated to excel in life,” Mrs. DePuy said. “Each brings their own set of expectations for their internship, but the common thread is their desire to do an outstanding job in all they touch.”