Prior to choosing an internship for the Mashpee High School School-to-Career program, 18-year-old Audrey M. Sylvia, an animal lover, completed a job shadow at Leach Animal Hospital in Mashpee, and after four hours of observing animal surgeries, realized that veterinary work was not her calling.

“I’m definitely interested in it but I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life,” she said this week.

The School-to-Career program, an alternative graduation requirement to completing a senior project, consists of an internship supplemented by a class taught by business and technology teacher Carol P. Riley. Ten students participated in the program this year. After they completed three job shadows at different locations, each senior applied for an internship and worked with a supervisor for 10 hours per week over a 13-week period.

For Audrey, her experience at the animal hospital provided an opportunity to reevaluate her career goals. She pursued instead an internship at the Riverview School in East Sandwich and discovered a passion for working with special needs students.

“Some of them had issues with bullying and maybe their families had placed them there,” she said. “I liked talking with them to figure out what they needed and helping them through certain things.”

Audrey was responsible for assisting students with daily tasks such as chores and homework, and participating in activities with them like nature walks and social events. When behavioral issues with students arose, she learned to remove the individual from a given situation and redirect him or her to a different task.

The soon-to-be graduate will begin a paid job at the Riverview School this summer. In the future, she hopes to attend college and become a therapist for special needs students.

Seniors Margo Smith and Vanessa B. Martins were inspired by their internships to help others through the field of nursing.

Margo was responsible for making patients comfortable while getting their IVs and blood transfusions, delivering their lunches and drinks, and observing the nurses. She also had the opportunity to watch a peripherally inserted central catheter line procedure, in which a line is inserted into the arm and fed through a vein into a patient’s chest.

“I saw a number of procedures performed and learned how to do them without actually doing them,” she wrote in a report of her experience to the Enterprise. “I also learned that while working in a hospital, there is always communication going on to make sure their [the nurses’] work is accurate.”

Margo hopes to join the Air National Guard after high school, then attend a state college to study nursing.

Vanessa, on the other hand, enjoyed learning about the different responsibilities of nurses in the operating room.

“The internship only made me fall in love with the medical field even more,” she wrote in her report.

Although Vanessa wants to pursue a career in nursing, she is unsure whether she wants to work in an operating room. She plans to attend college at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“One of the things [from my internship] I will always keep with me is how I learned to be responsible for myself and what I want to achieve and how to go after it,” she wrote.

Published in the Mashpee Enterprise on June 13, 2014