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Innovative Internship Prepares Students for Post-Secondary Success

Two years after its launch, the internship program developed by the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) and the Technical College High School (TCHS) continues to yield outstanding results in equipping students with the skills and experience necessary for a smooth transition into post-secondary education or careers. This year, interns earned an hourly wage thanks to a grant from the Chester County Department of Workforce Development.

The innovative program, designed for students in the Computer Information Systems (CIS)-Networking Program, immerses participants in a professional environment alongside CCIU staff. By working directly with network infrastructure, equipment, and real-world scenarios, students gain invaluable hands-on training that extends far beyond classroom simulations.

"Working hands-on with computer networks has prepared me for the tasks I can expect to do in future jobs after graduation. There are a lot of things that are not taught in the classroom that I would not have learned otherwise, and I now feel more secure in my abilities to face future situations and challenges.” said Nola Lewis, a TCHS Brandywine student.

In addition to technical skills, the program fosters the development of essential professional abilities that are vital for success after high school. Students enhance their problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills while navigating complex networking challenges alongside experienced professionals.

The CCIU staff who mentor the interns echo the program's positive impact. "One of the key benefits of CIS students participating in an internship, is the opportunity to apply theoretical and classroom knowledge into real-world scenarios. Students gain hands-on experience that reinforces their technical skills. I also believe that it builds their confidence and soft skills necessary to be successful in their future careers, " said CIS Networking teacher, Joe Vecchio.

"The students are eager to learn and participate in network management. We've witnessed remarkable growth in our interns' confidence and preparedness for post-secondary life," commented Dr. Walter Snyder, Senior Infrastructure Architect. "They're gaining a level of experience on complex network skills that will set them apart as they pursue further studies or enter the workforce."

Larry Konig, Senior Infrastructure Architect, also expressed their satisfaction with the partnership, saying, "It's been incredibly rewarding to work closely with these students and see their skills flourish in a real-world setting. We provide students with the fundamentals and scenarios, and they have been able to add a layer on top of that with their knowledge. So, not only are they learning from us, but they are also showing us creative solutions and new applications that can translate into value-added services for our customers.”

The program's impact extends beyond technical proficiency, providing participants with a competitive edge in time management, communication, and adapting to professional environments––competencies that are highly valued by universities and employers alike.

Jessica Sahl, assistant director of Innovative Educational Services at the CCIU, emphasized the program's importance in bridging the gap between education and career readiness. "Our goal is to ensure our students are not only knowledgeable but truly prepared to thrive in whatever path they choose after graduation. This internship program has been instrumental in achieving that objective."

As the CCIU and TCHS continue to build on the program's success, they remain committed to providing students with transformative experiences that will position them for a seamless transition into post-secondary life, armed with the skills, experience, and confidence to excel.

The Technical College High School is operated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit on behalf of Chester County's 12 public school districts. For more information about the CCIU and TCHS Computer Information Systems-Networking Program, please contact the CCIU at 484-237-5000 or visit www.cciu.org.

Photo: Mike Martinez, Infrastructure Architect at CCIU (left) instructs CIS students.