By TAYLOR HARTZ
Southington students and business owners are benefiting from another busy year with the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce’s “Training for Tomorrow” program.
In areas ranging from dentistry to marine biology and graphic design, the Chamber is setting students up for a semester of internships in their area of interest.
For several years, the program has helped students find shadowing opportunities, mentors, and internships within the Southington community.
While chamber members have priority Dave Pestillo, vice president of the chamber, said the group will “think outside the box” when necessary to ensure a perfect fit for each student.
So far, more than 50 students have signed up for this year’s program.
Representatives from the chamber met with Southington High School juniors on Monday, Nov. 16, following their first meeting with high school seniors in October.
The Chamber will finish placing students into their internships after their winter break.
Elizabeth Francis, executive director of the chamber, said the program offers a great opportunity for students to test out a field they are interested in, before committing to a career path.
“If a student goes in and discovers this is not what they want, they can choose a different path before investing financially into an education in that field,” said Francis.
The chamber hopes the internships will also help students establish connections and resources if they do choose to enter that field in the future.
“If they still choose to pursue that field, it just solidifies it,” said Francis, who hopes the program will help make the process of a choosing a major a little less daunting.
“This can open a lot of doors for their career,” she said.
Students can report back on the experience at their internship, giving feedback to the chamber, employer, and future interns to ensure that each experience is positive and effective.
In addition to gaining work experience, it is a great way for students to volunteer their time, said Francis.
She said it allows local companies “an opportunity to give back to the community,” and could lead to future employees.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Francis.
Pestillo said two of his own sons were able to gain internship experience through the program.
Chris Pestillo showed interest in graphic design and obtained an internship at Southington’s Sign Pro, where he is about to begin a part-time job, shared the vice president.
Students can choose between a variety of commitments, from shadowing an individual for a day to working up to 80 hours at their desired business.
Currently academic credit is not offered for the program, but Pestillo said they are discussing the idea.
“The program really gives them a behind-the-scenes look on their future” said Francis.