Students find success with internships

Evan Pflugradt

Senior Nathan Templon never believed he would be doing what he is doing.

Templon decided to put his skills to work in preparation for his senior year. That’s when he turned to the Career Development Center and ultimately became a manager at Boeing.

“I never thought I’d be doing anything like this,” he said. “You get into the coursework and you learn what you enjoy, and then you put forth those skills and start applying for positions.”

Templon, an engineering student, started applying for positions hoping to find a summer internship.

“I worked with the Career Development Center on my résumé and also attended sessions on developing my interview skills,” he said.

In the spring, Templon met with Boeing hiring managers. Boeing selected Templon for an internship for their VC25 program as a systems engineer. It came with a surprise. 

“The office gave me the name of a manager,” Templon said. “The manager then assigned me to the VC25 Program, which is most famously used as Air Force One.”

As a systems engineer, Templon was assigned to work with clients to discuss modifications and then work with designers to make it possible. The designers then turn the project back to Templon’s team, which measures quality and ensures it meets all regulations. 

Templon worked at the Boeing plant near Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. Over the summer, President Barack Obama visited Oklahoma City and Templon experienced the significance of the project.

“It is majestic to watch Air Force One fly,” Templon said.

Working on Air Force One posed exciting challenges for Templon.

“Working on such a large system full of intricacies makes you learn something new every day,” he said.

Templon suggested that students who desire to follow a similar path turn to the Career Development Center for interviewing skills.

“Being the best is no use if you can’t convince the hiring person that you are the best,” he said.

Templon graduates in December. At the end of his internship Boeing extended a full-time position to Templon, and he is considering accepting it.

“You feel like you’re working with a purpose and serious impact,” he said. “The country is being ran out of your plane. You’re building a mobile White House.”

The Career Development Center not only works with various internships but also works closely with a variety of cooperative education programs. Co-ops are different in the case of internships. In Co-ops, the student forgoes classes to pursue working full-time, while still earning credit for the position.

Abigale Martinez is in her fifth semester working for Communities in Schools, a local non-profit dropout prevention organization. Communities in Schools works with more than 10,000 individual students and their families in Sedgwick County each year.

“Before I started with Communities in Schools I had never taught or really interacted with kids,” Martinez said.

Now in her fifth semester at Jefferson Elementary, Martinez has several responsibilities.

Martinez facilitates a lunch group with students once a week called Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD). In addition, Martinez works with fourth grade students to educate them about financial literacy.

“Communities in Schools is also present in middle schools and high schools, but I prefer the elementary-school level because we are the first contact,” Martinez said. “We want to get students on the right track as early as possible.”

Martinez is also in charge of meeting people who recently arrived in the United States with limited English skills and are adapting to American culture. Martinez works to develop their skills so they can integrate themselves with the rest of the class.

“Typically, newcomers have trouble getting involved,” she said. “I want to make them feel welcome to the environment.”

Martinez facilitates a program called “Falcons Got Soul,” which is an after-school running program designed to increase student involvement and build self-confidence. Martinez was surprised by how much the program actually does for the students and their families. 

“Not many realize how much work we actually do,” Martinez said. “I’ve had the opportunity to take children to doctors appointments, I’ve taken food to families within the community and facilitated clothes.”

Communities in Schools is the nation’s leading dropout prevention program.

Martinez added that her experience with the program has given her valuable skills to move forward.

“You learn skills you wouldn’t find in the classroom,” she said.

Martinez learned about the opportunities with Communities in Schools through the Career Development Center. Martinez suggested students should do their research and take advantage of the resources available to them.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “It’s not as hard as you think it is.”