Business leaders share internship opportunities

February 9th, 2014

News Coverage:

Business leaders share internship opportunities

Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 6:20 am, Mon Feb 10, 2014.

By Sue Carpenter

GARRETT — A seed planted by Group Dekko only last year to educate students on local opportunities in advanced manufacturing has branched statewide.

Twenty businesses and organizations joined in a business round table Friday at Garrett High School to share ideas and information about the Explore program.

A partnership between Garrett High School and Group Dekko, Explore provides a six-week summer internship to introduce students to the various aspects of working in manufacturing, such as human resources, marketing, accounting and engineering.

Business teacher Brienne Sprunger, who heads the school’s Professional Careers Internship and Interdisciplinary Cooperative Education programs, organized the meeting between employers and staff members.

Group Dekko human resource director Theresa Peterson-Bajgrowicz and training and development specialist Cynthia Nesbitt outlined the program’s success before guests and teachers broke into three discussion groups. They shared that many students respond they are not interested in careers in manufacturing, mostly due to idea that the pay would be low. Peterson-Bajgrowicz said beginning salaries might be lower, but administrative positions such as program directors and plant managers are highly paid.

Students also have no clue to what career path they might want to take, she added.

Nesbitt said the pilot, six-week summer internship program implemented through East Noble high School last year resulted in seven students — all boys — signing on. All seven are interested in repeating the internship this summer, she added.

Entering the program entails an application process. Once accepted, interns take seven different assessments to evaluate their skills, interests and abilities. The assessments are administered and interpreted by a college sponsor, Trine University.

Interns are paid $8.25 per hour for the first year and $9 for the second. Students selected for the ICE program are paid $9.75 per hour during their senior year at Group Dekko.

The summer sessions are broken down into three phases of two-weeks each, including a job rotation and two different internships. Students will be responsible for developing a project they design, produce and sell, working with production and administration during the first phase. Proceeds from the products sold benefit community causes, Nesbitt said. Each student then chooses two jobs for the mini-internships.

Paid internships come with a price, estimated at some $1,000 per student, Peterson-Bajgrowicz said. Two state legislators have come on board, and a statewide model program is being assessed. The project has “snowballed,” she said, and they are looking for more businesses to come on board.

At Friday’s round table sessions, business leaders shared information and qualifications of their companies and discussed how to graduate responsible, productive citizens.

High school teachers used their professional development time to work with local employers on filling the employment gaps in the local community, Sprunger said. An additional goal of the meeting was to help high school staff members understand employers’ needs and for employees to understand the programs offered at Garrett High School.

This year’s Explore program is scheduled to begin June 16 and continues through July 31. Anyone seeking more information is asked to contact Nesbitt by email at or by phone at 800-829-3101, ext. 70324, or 599-3624.