A 12-week pilot internship program launched in September offers high school interns a chance to learn more about how government works and also to test drive possible careers, said Rose Haverkos, Hamilton’s GIS computer mapping coordinator, who is overseeing the internship program for the city.
City employees in four participating departments – information technology, public works, economic development and underground utilities -- have volunteered to participate in the program and guide the interns.
When the city put out the call to area schools about the new program, Badin guidance counselors were the first to respond and recruit participants, Haverkos said. The city plans to recruit future interns from other area schools as well as through churches and community centers.
“The kids seem to be enjoying themselves. They come in with enthusiasm,” Haverkos said.
In their first month, the interns have participated in plotting new gas lines, visited the hydroelectric power plant, learned the IT department’s scope of work, viewed engineering plans and visited sites for construction projects, among other things.
Badin seniors Kenny Kelley, Evan Kurtz, Nathan Totten and junior Cameron Treinen spend two hours interning each Tuesday and Thursday after school.
“It’s amazing to me how we walk around every day on the sidewalk and you never stop to think that there are miles of piping beneath you,” Treinen said. “You don’t usually think, ‘Thank goodness when I flick a light switch it turns on or when I pull the handle the water comes out.’ There is always something that someone puts into it to run it and always someone there maintaining it. Nothing is magic and everyone is working hard to make sure it’s all running at 100 percent.”
The internship gives students a glimpse into their possible futures and highlights careers that interest them.
“This is an excellent experience for a resume or college application and allows us to get a look into different careers,” Kelley said.
Working with the IT department has strengthened Kurtz’s resolve to study computer science in college and make strides in that field. Totten also hopes to study computer science.
Kelley, who also wants to pursue IT, said seeing everything that goes into running a city has made him interested in working in that type of environment.
“Working with a municipality would be a great thing. Who knows, maybe I will come back to Hamilton,” Kelley said. “That would be awesome.”
Treinen said he has enjoyed seeing the civil service and economic development aspects of the city.
“I like to see things go from the ground up, to go from nothing to everything,” Treinen said. “It has really shaped my views and has pushed me forward to what I thought I wanted to do.”
The students have been reporting their activities with the city via social media. The internship will culminate in a project that will allow the students to offer feedback and ideas to the city of Hamilton.
“The kids bring a unique perspective,” Haverkos said. “We get to see their perspective and what they think government should be. We let them see what government is really like and they become ambassadors through the community.”