Three Toyota Motor high school interns showcased the technical skills and practical life skills learned during their paid internship at Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia on Friday.
Through The Education Alliance’s West Virginia Ready Summer Internship program, which is in its first year, 10 interns were placed at Toyota Motor Manufacturing WV, Appalachian Power, and Cabell Huntington Hospital.
“Today we are really excited to see the first pilot program of our West Virginia Ready Summer Internship program,” said Amelia Courts, president and CEO of The Education Alliance. “This is a really unique opportunity for high school students here in the Mountain State to get real-world, hands-on experience at some of our region’s top employers.”
Courts said that The Education Alliance realized that many internships are available for college students, but not many are available for high school students. The WV Ready Summer Internship program offers rising junior and senior high school students the opportunity to intern in energy, manufacturing and health care fields.
“They actually learn about the career opportunities and the pathways while they’re still in high school and they can make those critical decisions about what’s right for them, what aligns with their dreams and passions and what classes and things they need to do to get there,” Courts said.
The Toyota Motor interns worked at the Toyota Manufacturing plant for six weeks, where they received hands-on training on the Toyota Motor floor.
“I want to be a mechanical engineer and work on building engines professionally, but here I learned a lot about new technology, which would be stem knowledge with the WV Ready career skills,” said Wyatt Bryan, a junior from Hannan Junior/Senior High School. “I think that’s really important in what I’m doing.”
Bryan said his favorite thing he learned during his internship was how to build new engines.
Halie Johnson, the second Toyota Motor intern from Hannan Junior/Senior High School, said the Toyota Motor plant was nothing like she’d imagined and that she was excited for her future in the field.
“I took the internship so I can see what my future can look like and they can help me in my future,” she said. “I would like to come here after I graduate high school.”
Ashtyn Burks from Buffalo High School, the third intern at the presentation, said he enjoyed having a hands-on experience at the Toyota Motors plant.
“I was expecting to just be the coffee boy, but instead I actually got to do things I wanted to do here,” he said. “It’s great here. They treat you like family.”
“West Virginia, through our higher education institutes, through Education Alliance and Toyota and others, realize that these STEM fields are the fields of the future and we’ve got to light a fire under our next generation for them to want to stay here and to want to go into these fields,” said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito at the presentation. “I think you’re seeing a beginning of the seeds of that developing and that’s an exciting part.”
Courts said the program was a huge success with more than 100 students applying for this summer’s WV Ready internship positions and that The Education Alliance plans on expanding it next year.
“A lot of the students have said really that it’s been life changing for them,” she said. “Many of them, even though they’re in the neighboring community and neighboring counties, they really had no idea what happened behind the scenes at Toyota Motor manufacturing or at Appalachian Power, so they got to see what a real job looks like and also learn about all of the great benefits and such a positive culture and opportunities for professional growth and management opportunities, so all of those things have really been positive feedback from the students.”