Alternative work: Liberty students with internships

Kelly Jinguji, Spotlight Editor

Today, only 16 percent of students have jobs while in high school. Comparing this to the 32 percent who had jobs in high school during the 1990s, it’s obvious that fewer students are in the workforce through the ages of 14 to 18.
However, while the number of employed students has greatly declined, the number of students in the internship workforce certainly has not. In fact, the interns are getting much younger, like seniors Max Sands and Anthony Alegrete.
Sands currently has a part-time job at the Microsoft Alumni Network, a branch of Microsoft which works alongside retired Microsoft employees. His internship began last summer, where he worked small jobs at the Seattle Microsoft office.
“I started out as a basic intern. I did all the things that people don’t want to do,” Sands said. “I answered emails for customer inquiries and completed small data projects; I even made a calendar at one point.”
Like Sands, Alegrete also started small before his internship at the Woodland Park Zoo. Alegrete got connected with the zoo through summer volunteer opportunities during his freshman year of high school.
“I started through a program called Zoo Corps, which ultimately got me in contact with the internship. I worked on creating an enrichment project, where I was supposed to engage the zoo animals and bring out the natural instincts that may get lost when the animals are in captivity,” Alegrete said.
Through time, Sands and Alegrete’s internships developed quickly, and both learned valuable life skills along the way.
“Being a part of an internship really reinforces a lot of the 21st century communication skills that are really important. We all understand the concept of dependency and reliability, but unless you’re in the real workforce, those traits don’t come into play,” Alegrete said.
For Sands, he gained knowledge about the workforce environment that a traditional job could not have allowed him to experience.
“The Microsoft internship really exposed me to the real world and the way people interact with one another,” Sands said. “Even through email, I had to adjust to that. We can’t type an email like we text. It’s getting that exposure on how to effectively communicate in the workplace that’s so important.”
Sands and Alegrete both praise the value of internships, stating that the experience was irreplaceable.
“The biggest thing that I can take away: networking. If have gained so much knowledge about the networking process,” Sands said. “I even have a LinkedIn profile; I didn’t even know what that was a while ago. The importance of learning to communicate with one another is essential.”