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“Undecided” is one of the most common majors declared by students in their sophomore year of college. These students may simply not want to commit to a major or have absolutely no idea what they want to pursue for the rest of their lives. Few students have a very specific idea of the field they will pursue in college, and even fewer stick with that original idea as they move through college.

A student who feels 100 percent sure that she is going to be a nurse may learn in college that when confronted with a real patient, she absolutely abhors the idea of using needles. Such experiences often lead to major switches, which may translate to more years in college and sometimes a complete transition from the previous field of study.

High school internships can help eliminate these headaches by giving students an idea of what career they want to pursue and whether their original plan is something they truly want to do.

Many students can get involved with internship programs through their schools.

Michelle Pera, a senior at North Tonawanda High School, is one such student. She is doing an internship at Niagara Regional Federal Credit Union, where she does filing, scanning and takes deposits. She landed her internship through her school’s Career Exploration Internship Program after making an employment portfolio and interviewing, and she is enjoying the opportunity.

“I like learning about banking, working with people, and seeing what it’s like in the ‘real working world.’ ”

Michelle believes that her internship has helped her to narrow down her career options, and she knows that she wants to pursue a career in this field.

“I want to be an accountant because I like math and working with numbers,” she said. “At my internship, I have talked to the people and have seen what they do, which has furthered my interest. I can see what an accountant does and the setting of the job.”

One of the most important benefits of a high school internship is simply being able to explore the ups and downs of a career, thus being more prepared for “life in the real world.” “I can see what it’s like in a real job,” Michelle explained, “and I can see all the perks and downsides to those jobs.”

But is real-world experience the only advantage of a high school internship? Help with more immediate obstacles, like getting into college, is another incentive for teens to work at an internship.

“It’s a great way to see if you would like a job in that field,” said Michelle. “But it also looks great when applying to college.”

For more information about internship opportunities, check with your school guidance counselors.

Allison Franz is a junior at Sacred Heart Academy.