LIVINGSTON, NJ — The nearly 500 members of the Livingston High School (LHS) senior class will have a unique opportunity to gain real-world work experience this spring when the district launches its inaugural four-week internship program.

The program, which is available to any seniors who are in good academic standing and are on-track to graduate in June, also provides an opportunity for local businesses, departments and organizations to support their local students. Although several members of Livingston's business community already attended one of two informational meetings held at the high school last week, there is still time to get involved.

“The Senior Internship Program is a great way for seniors to explore their career and academic interests prior to high school graduation,” program organizers Maggie Wohltmann and Colleen Cornell said in a joint statement. “It allows them to build relationships with local businesses and agencies, develop valuable skills, and gain real-world experience.

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“A participating business/agency benefits by mentoring tomorrow’s employees and guiding them on the skills needed in the workplace. Our seniors have a lot to offer, and hopefully both groups benefit from this relationship.”

Wohltmann, a business teacher and advisor to the Future Business Leaders of America Club, and Cornell, the lead teacher in the LHS business department, explained that the program is intended to empower students to take ownership of their education by pursuing an internship in a special area of interest. 

In place of attending traditional classes, participants will expand their learning by interning at an off-site location for a period of four weeks from May 26 through the week before graduation. During this time, the students are expected to spend a minimum of 20 hours per week at their internship and no more than eight hours a day for those students under age 18.

According to Wohltmann and Cornell, the program was approved last year, and LHS Principal Mark Stern has been the driving force behind it since then. Wohltmann and Cornell stated that the principal “believes in the opportunities [the program] provides [the] seniors—the most important being to gain real-world experience in a field of interest prior to high school graduation.”

Stern, who was on hand during last week’s information sessions to answer any questions prospective mentors had about the program, expressed his hope that this will become “a full community venture, where the students are benefiting from the expertise of people who are in fields that they might be interested in” and where local businesses will “benefit from working with our students, who bring new, fresh, exciting ideas and skill sets to their table.”

“[I hope] this becomes a culmination of their 13-year Livingston Public School experience with all of the interests that they’ve garnered and the skills they’ve developed to now go out and practice them in an environment with a mentor and to figure out if those interests are true passions that they can pursue in life after LHS,” said Stern, adding that he believes this will become “a true give-and-take experience for everyone involved; that’s the dream behind all this.”

Over the last year, the program organizers have visited and spoken with other area educators in Verona, Montclair, and Chatham to learn about how their schools implemented their senior internship programs. They then explained that curriculum was written over the summer and has had support from all levels of administration at the Livingston Public Schools central office, the Livingston Board of Education and the high school.

“The focus throughout has been what will work best for our Livingston students, staff and business/community partners, and that has shaped all decisions,” said Wohltmann and Cornell.

They added that students will be guided through the process by one of the Senior Internship Program Coordinators, who will also hold periodic meetings to assist students with completing the program requirements.

Once the internship starts, students will submit weekly journal assignments to the coordinator. At the conclusion of the internship period, students will be required to complete a final presentation detailing and reflecting on their experience as a culminating assessment. 

Students will earn one credit upon completion of all program requirements and a positive evaluation from both their internship mentor and faculty advisor.

Interested mentors are encouraged to contact Wohltmann and Cornell regarding an upcoming Senior Internship Expo Night to be held on Wednesday, Jan. 8. They explained that the purpose of this event is to connect students and mentors, and that “the response so far has been tremendous.” Register now by CLICKING HERE.

To preview the application, download a copy by clicking here. The application process begins after the student has made contact with a business/agency for a possible position, and all applications must be submitted electronically no later than Feb. 28, 2020.

For general information, such as a business/mentor overview, internship guidelines and a list of “Career Readiness Practices” that apply to the internship from the New Jersey Learning Standards for Career & Technical Education (CTE), refer to the website by CLICKING HERE. All mentors must review these practices before beginning the application form.

More specific questions can be referred directly to Wohltmann at mwohltmann@livingston.org or 973-535-8000 ext. 5408 or Cornell at ccornell@livingston.org or 973-535-8000 ext. 5304.