High School Interning…Making Real Differences

By Hamish Gray, Senior Vice President
Dec 11, 2020 11:00 AM ET
Blog

Many companies have college intern programs to provide students career experience while allowing the company an opportunity to identify those that may be a good fit to join the team upon their graduation. We certainly utilize this approach at Keysight with a robust college intern recruiting and post-graduation hiring program. But the often-overlooked high school intern engagement is another approach Keysight uses to support student development while also identifying potential future employee candidates. In fact, Keysight’s High School internship program was the topic of a recent virtual panel discussion hosted by the Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation of Sonoma County, CA. The session, attended and viewed by hundreds of local high school students, introduced three current Keysight high school interns who discussed their experiences, along with three Keysight managers who shared their experience with this program. The discussion was insightful for me to understand the real difference companies can make in offering such internships, to both the students and the company.

Transitioning from education to the workplace

Moderated by Brandon Jewell, Director of Industry Engagement at the CTE Foundation, the session focused on communicating to current high schoolers what it’s like to intern at a tech company right out of high school and how it provides an opportunity to bridge the gap between education to the workplace. Three current Keysight high school interns provided insight into their experience during the conversation, including:

  • Jocelyn, who works in Keysight’s manufacturing function. She was surprised by the level she was engaged in the product manufacturing process after expecting only to be building products as part of an assembly line with limited visibility of the end:end process. But she has been pleasantly surprised by the span of her experiences at Keysight and how it has broadened her visibility of the different career paths in electronics manufacturing.
  • Tom, who has been focused on writing process efficiency software and testing measurement equipment. He noted how the experience has helped him learn about different technology career paths and is appreciative of the opportunity to learn and then directly apply what he has learned in the workplace.
  • Lorenzo, who works in Keysight’s machine shop. He has been learning how to develop high-precision parts, where even a single micron makes a difference in final product quality, and noted how he appreciated the support and learning independence of the Keysight internship.

What was particularly heartening for me is how every one of these students noted how much they appreciated the Keysight culture, especially how nice and supportive all the employees have been. And of course, I was very pleased to hear that the intended outcome of the program is working from the student perspective. Two noted that their Keysight experience has helped them identify a preferred focus area as they consider college degrees, and one noted they felt ready to transition directly into a career.

Company perspective

It was also interesting to hear from Keysight employees about their experience with the high school intern program.

  • Henri Komrij, Keysight Vice President and General Manager Technology Order Fulfillment, mentioned that he started with the company as an intern himself. From his perspective he sees the high school intern program as an opportunity to bring next-generation thinkers into the company early in their careers.
  • Stephanie Cornell, Keysight New Product Introductions Operations Manager, noted that she actually started with the company at the same age as her high school intern is now. In Stephanie’s experience, her intern quickly jumped into the work environment and engaged well with the team right away.
  • Nitin Avery, Keysight Solutions New Product Introductions Manager, said he was really pleased with the ability of the high school interns to quickly absorb workplace information and put it to use. Interestingly, Nitin took the unique approach of pairing a recent Keysight employee hire with the high school intern as a mentor. This was a great way to help the new employee take some leadership responsibility quickly while providing the high schooler a solid technical mentor.

In the end, Keysight’s experience with high school interns has positively influenced the development of technology skills in the local communities while offering the company an early preview of potential future employees. And while some of these students may go off to college after the close of their internship, we of course hope they come back to work at Keysight.

At a minimum, I am hopeful that the discussion piqued the interest of high schoolers on the call to reach out and consider the opportunity that a high school internship with a local company like Keysight can offer them.