Two new internship programs are giving Canal Winchester High School seniors a chance to test-drive possible career paths before they enter college.
The internships in education and allied health give students an opportunity to step out of their normal high school classrooms.
Five students have already participated in the three-week after-school program.
High school Principal Kirk Henderson said the education program provides students interested in teaching with an opportunity to observe, participate and be mentored by faculty members.
Students considering the medical field are working with the district's athletics trainer.
"The idea is to either affirm that what they think is a good fit really is; or for them to find out maybe this really isn't what they want to do and reassess their plans for the future," Henderson said.
"If a student finds that the major he/she wanted is really not what they wanted to do, then maybe we are also helping them and/or their family save a lot of money that otherwise would have been wasted," he added.
In addition to partnering with Canal Winchester school employees, the district is providing internships through Nationwide Children's Hospital, which has more than 2,000 jobs within its organization.
While her internship required her to go to Winchester Trail Elementary School every day after school for three weeks, Alexis Garcia still returns every Tuesday and Thursday to help third-grade teachers and students.
For Garcia, who plans to major in early childhood education at Kent State University, the internship experience reinforced her decision to become an elementary school teacher.
"It helped me decide that I still want to be a teacher," Garcia said. "The internship also prepared me for what a normal day will be like when I become a teacher."
The experience also made Hannah Klatt, who plans to attend either the University of Dayton or East Carolina University, realize that she likes working with young students.
"I have always wanted to be a teacher. It just made me more excited to do it," Klatt said. "I got a feel for what actually goes on in the classroom before I go to college. You have to be creative."
Klatt and Garcia said they would recommend the internship program to other students.
"I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who is thinking about becoming a teacher," Garcia said.
Henderson said he is grateful to Canal Winchester teachers and administrators and to Nationwide Children's Hospital for their willingness to make these internships possible.
"We have all shared a common vision and that is to try and prepare our youth to be productive citizens, not only now, but in the future," he said.
Henderson said he hopes the program will expand to allow students at all grade levels at the high school to participate and receive credit for an internship. He said the district would also like to partner with more area businesses on the program.