Local students in the Career Accelerator Program can get a “pre-internship” to give them on-the-job experience.

Local students in the Career Accelerator Program can get a “pre-internship” to give them on-the-job experience.

Photo provided by Patrice Rowbal

New Troy program teams up students with local businesses

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published February 8, 2024


TROY — The Troy School District is teaming up with the local business community to provide students with on-the-job experience in a variety of fields.

Known as the Career Accelerator Program, this new initiative gives businesses the part-time assistance of students over a six- to eight-week period, exposing those students to a variety of real-world experiences.

“This year, we in the Troy School District reinvested in our business roundtable, which are businesses working with the school district,” said Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Christine DiPilato. “We wanted to start this program, which exposes high school students to the world of work. In the Career Accelerator Program, juniors and seniors apply to take part. We selected approximately 30 students from our four high schools, and they are placed in a pre-internship program. In it, they learn about professional work etiquette, how to behave on the job, how to present yourself, how to be a helpful employee, how to ask for help, how to communicate with an employer and so forth.”

These “pre-internships” are supported by foundational lessons that help students assess career paths and learn important skills, such as applying for jobs and job etiquette.

“We want our students to be successful internship candidates,” said DiPilato. “We want them to know how to support the organization they are matched with. During sessions, industry partners come in and speak with our students. They learn about different facets of various professions.”

The Troy School District is looking for additional businesses to join and host students. To learn more, they can reach out to district representative Kendra Montante by emailing kmontante@troy.k12.mi.us or calling (248) 989-0875.

A list of businesses that have committed to hosting pre-interns include Trion Solutions, TMP Architecture, Barton Malow, Children’s Hospital of Michigan — Troy, Rehmann, Northwestern Mutual, the Troy Chamber of Commerce, National Branding, Digital Interiors and Stifel.

The program starts with “Match Day,” on Wednesday, Feb. 28, when students announce which businesses they will work with.

“This is where they find out who they are matched with,” said DiPilato. “Our industry partners provide a pre-internship program for one to six students. Students agree to giving a minimum of 20 hours of experience outside of the school day between February and March. Our hope is that some of our students find great partnerships and this turns into great internships. We also hope they learn what would be a good career fit or that they see if something might not be something they want to explore more.”

Signarama and National Branding in Troy is among the businesses that will host students during this inaugural year of the program. Its CEO and president, Bob Chapa, said he was excited to find this new way to support the district.

“We’re not sure how many students will be coming in. We’re expecting four to six students. Depending on the students, it’s a six- to eight-week program, with the option of a summer internship program afterward as well,” he said. “I am involved in the community and the schools. We’ve supported a lot of schools through signage. I was asked to participate when there wasn’t a clear idea of where it would go, and it was very exciting to see how this program grew.”

The goal is to let students see what careers and skills would be a good fit for them — as well as which might not.

“We open it to all students. All students can apply using a video response to some questions,” said DiPilato. “We want to bring together a diverse group of students representing a variety of interests. We have students interested in construction, computer and graphic design, engineering, health care, sales, real estate, human resources, and more.”

“Our core business is graphic design, and production design and branding,” added Chapa. “They will learn about business management, graphic design, sales, manufacturing and the business side. I am particularly interested in the business aspect, since it can help them no matter what career path they choose.”

Chapa said he thinks exposing students to career opportunities in this way will make a huge impact on them.

“When I first started at Signarama, I was in college. I was studying to be an architect. I had the opportunity to be the first graphic designer to be hired. I embraced the manufacturing aspect of business, and it was a great fit,” he said. “For students, there’s a lot of confusion about their possible career paths. I am glad to help them find a path and jump in and help kids.”

DiPilato called this new initiative something exciting for the district.

“This is something new this year,” she said. “We want to expose our students to the real world and ensure they know how to apply the lessons they learn in the classroom to the real world. We want them to be critical thinkers and risk-takers.”