High school students in Richmond County get paired with summer internships

RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - About 125 Richmond County students will start summer internships Monday. They'll shadow businesses across the CSRA like Georgia Power, Starbucks,Ronald McDonald House, United Way and more as part of the Students2Work initiative.

In the crowded cafeteria of the Technical Career Magnet School on the Augusta Tech Campus, students learned about the real world. At those tables, students' nerves met knowledge.

"We were really excited for today. We didn't know who we were getting placed with until this very day. So, we were just like 'who are we going to get placed with, who are we going to get placed with," said Kayton Clinkscales, a senior at A. R. Johnson Magnet High School.

In his free time, Kayton plays soccer, runs cross country and track. In the future he wants to be an engineer, so RW Allen, a construction company, was the perfect match. Friday, he earned what he's going to do, what he should wear, and when he'll report to the office on Broad Street. He's looking to learn a lot more about the company this summer.

"A lot of experience with the construction, with the engineering side, and just being everywhere. Honestly, anything going into these professional workplaces you can gain and use for your life. You just have to want to and apply it," he said.

Lindsey Swartzbaugh was there to make sure he got that knowledge. She's the director of marketing at RW Allen. The company builds beautiful buildings in seven states and for seven weeks, it'll be Kayton's new workspace. It's hard for students coming right out of high school to know what they're doing at work. That's why a business forum was held, to train professionals how to work with incoming interns.

"I think what's going to be fascinating is how we can be flexible. because flexibility is really important. And we've seen that a little bit with the millennial generation. Positive reinforcement, hands-on activity, those things are gonna be really important for this group of students," said Swartzbaugh.

Workforce development is a massive incentive for her company. It provides a pipeline of fresh faces. Lindsey said students can stand out with soft skills that people who've never held a job may not know. Things like looking people in the eye, being able to hold a conversation, returning calls. Understanding the corporate structure and knowing their interests is also important to make the most of the program.

"I think that these are valuable lessons that we can help our students now with so that as they're coming into employment, as they're coming into our businesses, they're a step ahead. I certainly would have loved that when I was 16, 17 and 18," Swartzbaugh said.

If interns do well over the summer, it could set them up for a successful career.

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