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High school interns program enters third year

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DECATUR – Hosting a high school intern was a positive experience for Ameren Illinois.

A previous intern now has a summer job with the company, said Tony Wilkins, superintendent of administration. Ameren participates in the program with the hope that those interns will pursue college and career in the engineering field and come back to Ameren to work full time.

Wilkins was at MacArthur High School on Monday to interview prospective interns in the district's Inspired Futures program. MacArthur and Eisenhower high schools are participating.

Decatur schools are in their third year of placing high school seniors in local businesses as interns during the spring semester, said Ashley Grayned, distance learning coordinator. 

“It's just a really exciting time,” Grayned said. “In September, we brought all of the business partners out to talk to the students, and then they had to turn their applications in and the employers actually choose the interns to come on board.”

Starting in January, students will be on the job in the afternoons three days a week, and Grayned said they won't be doing busywork, but real jobs, learning real skills.

“We have a lot going on at DynaGraphics,” said Amanda Drain, marketing director, who interviewed students for an internship there. “I don't always know what's going on and we heard about this great opportunity to get students in our building to see what we do and help promote our business as well, to get them some work experience in social media, photography, customer service, shipping.”

Being nervous is inevitable when sitting for an interview, but Lyric Tyus was expecting to talk to one person, not five, on Monday at MacArthur. She said it went very well, however.

“I've done job interviews before, so it wasn't much different than that,” she said.

She's hoping to intern at Independence Pointe, working with the small children, which is something she has experience doing.

“I plan on majoring in business and psychology when I go off to school,” she said. “I plan on becoming a child psychologist and you have to have a master's degree, so I figure working in school setting as a counselor or something until I could go on.”

Caleb Boerger wants to pursue electrical engineering, but agreed with the Caterpillar Inc. representatives during his interview that exploring all kinds of engineering is a good idea, just to be sure.

“I really wanted to put my name out there and understand what I'd be doing outside of college,” he said about his decision to sign up for the internship program. “You get stuck in bookwork and everything like that. I want to know what engineers do outside of school.”

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