2018-02-16 / Community News

The Internship: New program offers opportunities

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Scarborough High School junior Jack Lafayette (left) is interning this semester with Jim Kavanagh, RN MAS OCN, Radiation Oncology at Maine Medical Center. Other sites hosting Scarborough students include Ace Hardware, Eight Corners Primary School, Lucky Clover Stables, MEND Health and Wellness of Maine, Nxgen Fitness Center, Pleasant Hill Primary School, Portland Radio Group, Salt Air Designs, Scarborough Terrace, South Portland Veterinary Hospital and The Good Theater. (Courtesy photo) Scarborough High School junior Jack Lafayette (left) is interning this semester with Jim Kavanagh, RN MAS OCN, Radiation Oncology at Maine Medical Center. Other sites hosting Scarborough students include Ace Hardware, Eight Corners Primary School, Lucky Clover Stables, MEND Health and Wellness of Maine, Nxgen Fitness Center, Pleasant Hill Primary School, Portland Radio Group, Salt Air Designs, Scarborough Terrace, South Portland Veterinary Hospital and The Good Theater. (Courtesy photo) For 13 Scarborough High School students, learning this semester is not happening in just the confines of the high school, but also in a dozen businesses in the Scarborough area.

Every other day for three hours a day, students in Christy Zavasnik’s internship course head out into the business world to meet with their internship mentors at Ace Hardware, Salt Air Designs, Pleasant Hill Primary School, Eight Corners Primary School, Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living, MEND Wellness and Nxgen Fitness Center in Scarborough, Portland Radio Group and South Portland Veterinary Hospital in South Portland, as well as Lucky Clover Stables in Saco and The Good Theater and Maine Medical Center in Portland.


Scarborough High School senior Alexis Ivers (center) observes a procedure at South Portland Veterinary Hospital with Amanda Poitras (left) and Dr. Jennifer Allen. Ivers is visiting the veterinary center every other day this semester as part of Scarborough High School’s new internship course. (Courtesy photo) Scarborough High School senior Alexis Ivers (center) observes a procedure at South Portland Veterinary Hospital with Amanda Poitras (left) and Dr. Jennifer Allen. Ivers is visiting the veterinary center every other day this semester as part of Scarborough High School’s new internship course. (Courtesy photo) This is the first time the high school has offered such a course, but the idea for it was hatched last year.

“This course is one that I was musing about in 2016,” said Zavasnik, who also teaches Spanish at the school. “I’ve taught now for 14 years and I have always experienced kids learn best when they are doing, when they are speaking the language when we are traveling, when we are listening to a Skype conversation. That is when kids really are engaged the most and learn best.”

The course is not required and students get elective credits for participating.

Zavasnik said as she designed the course, she wanted to “create an opportunity for our kids to be able to go out and experience something they are interested in pursuing” and the high school’s recent change to block scheduling has allowed students the opportunity to do just that.

The course, however, is much more than just job shadowing out in the business world.

Students are required to reflect weekly on what they are learning and complete a final project about their internship experience. Students also meet with Zavasnik several times a semester for a seminar class where they learn about how to write a resume, interview skills and other important job-related skills.

Scarborough High School Principal David Creech was happy to support the introduction of the course. To free up time for Zavasnik to prepare for and execute the class, she and her fellow world language teachers have taken on additional students in their respective classes.

“When we look at what we offer at the school, we are very proud, but we also know it’s critical students are presented with hands-on learning where they can go out and really explore what’s happening in the world,” Creech said.

Jack Lafayette, a junior, is using his internship with Dr. James Kavanagh in the radiation oncology unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland, to explore his interest in the medical field.

“This is an incredible opportunity to get my feet wet. With this I have been able to shadow doctors, a radiation oncologist, but also an anesthesiologist. Anesthesiology is really what I want to do,” Lafayette said.

Although just a few weeks into his internship experience, Lafayette said his experience has allowed him to truly see how a hospital operates.

“When you go to the hospital, you don’t see the behind the scenes stuff. This is a great way to witness that,” he said.

Sarah Gentile, a senior, is exploring her artistic interests through her internship with Amy Sirois, a 1992 Scarborough High School graduate and Tracy Palm, co-owners of Salt Air Designs, a small business that creates cottage and coastal style home décor that is sold in 100 stores across the country including Suburban Home Outfitters in Scarborough and L.L.Bean in Freeport.

“I have always been interested in art. I enjoy doing it 24/7, but I also know it is hard to make a career out of. It is interesting to connect with someone else, who has taken their artistic and creative side and made a business out of it,” said Gentile, who has applied to the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, New York and Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, a school she is leaning toward.

Palm said she and Sirois were at a girls soccer game last fall and Sirois ran into Scarborough High School Assistant Principal Sue Ketch, who she had for chorus and as the Oak Hill Players director.

“High school would not have been the same without her,” Sirois said.

That run-in led to a discussion about Salt Air Designs and the potential of having an intern from Scarborough for the semester.

It was an idea that both Palm and Sirois were happy to entertain.

“We were mentored ourselves by Chart Metal Works, so we know the value of mentorships. It seemed like the perfect fit for us,” Palm said of having a high school intern.

Senior Marina Clough has been able to see how a small business works through her internship with Ace Hardware Marketing Manager Rebecca Wood, also an alumna of Scarborough High School. Clough has been able so far to learn about advertising fliers, deposits and inventory management and what else is needed to operate the business aspect of the hardware store.

Clough said the internship has helped her explore business operation before heading to college in the fall.

“I wanted to get some experience in something I thought I’d be interested in to see if I liked it,” said Clough, who has been accepted to the University of Maine at Orono, but is interested in studying accounting, financial management or marketing at a school in the Boston area.

Wood said Ace Hardware haven’t had high school interns before, but is happy to provide the opportunity for Clough.

“This is something new to us. We want to help find a way to get the most out of this,” said Wood, a 2004 graduate.

Her husband Tyler and parents, Anne and Dan Johnson, who own the store, also are Scarborough High School graduates.

Wood said an internship class like the one Scarborough High School is offering now is something she would have been interested in when she was in high school and something she hopes continues at the hardware store.

“I like the sound of the program. There’s a lot of different aspects here that I think students can learn from,” she said.

Two seniors, Jamiyae Mattress and Emily Royce, are interning with Nicole Adams, health services director at Scarborough Terrace assisted living and memory care who has exposed Mattress and Royce to the different departments at the facility. Mattress, was accepted to seven schools, but will play volleyball at either Marymount University in Virginia or Framington State University in Massachusetts, where she will study biology with the hopes of working in a neonatal intensive care unit someday.

“Scarborough Terrace has really had a willingness to design a good learning experience for them,” Zavasnik said. “Nicole has them rotating through different areas, with the idea of them focusing on one or two of those areas eventually.”

In a release announcing the launch of the internship program, Adams said “It is our pleasure to mentor future nurses and caregivers who are identified via the Scarborough High School internship program. “Inspiring a new generation of caregivers is great for our staff, and we hope it will be the same for these bright interns.”

While the internships have helped many students in the class to gain footing in the fields they are interested in, for Nick Anderson, his internship at Portland Radio Group has exposed him to a completely different line of work.

Anderson said he wanted to find an internship in music engineering, but after some searching for that by Zavasnik, settled on an internship at the radio station, something he has come to love.

Anderson has been primarily helping the station’s staff write and produce radio commercials for GoGreen Landscaping in Scarborough and Aura in Portland.

“Now that I have done it, I have grown a passion for it. It is a lot of fun cutting music and working with someone in the studio,” said Anderson, a senior, who is looking into going to school for music in the fall.

The students, Zavasnik said, are not the only ones benefitting from the internships. The host sites are as well.

“This allows students to go out and see in the community what businesses are doing, but it also allows these businesses to see our students in a different perspective,” she said.

This year’s internship course was capped at 15 students, but Zavasnik said the hope is funding could be found to hire someone to offer the internship course at a larger level.

“Christy and I have talked about this really just being the beginning,” Creech said.

Aside from overseeing the internships and leading the seminar classes, Zavasnik has also begun to look into ways to bring career exploration to the younger grade levels. In May, the sophomore class will be attending the South Portland High School Career Fair, which will also be attended by students from South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

Return to top