Each semester high school students at Big Picture get a head start on exploring potential careers through the school’s internship program, designed for students to intern at a company that is in their desired career field.
“I heard about the internship program which really interested me to kind of help me find a clear path of where I’m going and help prepare me,” said senior, Stella Griswold about why she enrolled at Big Picture.
Griswold has been at Big Picture since her freshman year and has had the opportunity to explore her interests. Her advisor has supported her in her journey. This fall semester, Griswold, and fellow classmate Camille Broussard interned at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Redmond.
“At Little Bit they work with people with disabilities and do therapy, which is what I’m interested in,” said Griswold. “I want to learn how to work with people who have disabilities and how I handle situations like that.”
Broussard is more interested in learning the business and nonprofit aspect of Little Bit. She learned about how the business obtains grants, how they set up their volunteers and what keeps them going, she said.
The two students intern at Little Bit once a week for seven hours each day and go wherever help is needed.
“There’s a lot of hippotherapy in the morning, which is usually more of a private lesson for those with more severe disabilities,” said Broussard. “Then we have adaptive usually in the afternoon, which is group lessons with five to seven people in the arena.”
Griswold and Broussard developed relationships with coworkers and riders at Little Bit, while learning the ins and outs of the business.
“I think being in the arena with different people and so many personalities all in one day is really cool,” said Broussard.
Both students noted improved communication skills as a result of their time at Little Bit. “Being in high school we have our own group and we hang out with a lot of other high schoolers,” said Broussard. “Here you have to communicate with adults, people with different backgrounds, and different interests.”
Part of the internship program is to develop a project about the company, sometimes with the intent of improving one aspect of the company. Griswold and Broussard are helping with the retention of volunteers, by revamping the presentation new volunteers view during orientation and developing a training that is more engaging.
According to Lindsay Shepard, Manager of Volunteer Involvement, improving the onboarding process is one of the biggest areas of growth for them. Griswold and Broussard’s work to improve this process is greatly appreciated by the staff at Little Bit.
Although both students will be concluding their time at Little Bit soon, they are both eager to start their upcoming internships.
Griswold will be interning in a third grade classroom in the Bellevue School District where she is excited to work with students. She believes a school psychologist may be a potential career path.
Broussard will take her studies to Fred Hutch and work with their lead pathologist. She wishes to be more on the research side of studying the effects of vaccines on animals and how that translates to human medicine. “My philosophy would be bridging the gap between animal and human medicine,” she said.
How Big Picture Supports Students
Both Griswold and Broussard believe the structure of learning at Big Picture supports students’ internships and prepares them well. Freshman year, students are given some assistance with how to compose professional emails, and how to navigate an informational interview. After this preparation, it is mostly student-driven to find contacts, send emails and arrange the internships.
The Big Picture model of project based learning, and student-led conferences and exhibitions prepare students for the internship interviews. “With the conferences and exhibitions being so big, we learn huge presentation skills that I think really help when you go in for an interview,” said Broussard. “It really makes you document what’s happening with what you’re saying and how you’re communicating. So you know exactly what things you need to work on and where you’re growing. So you can always have goals for the next interview or internship.”
Advisors support the students throughout their journey, and even come to exhibitions at times. “I think that just shows huge support because they are coming and showing an interest in your entire life when they’re doing that,” said Broussard.
With small classes, support from advisors and school staff, and a self-advocating model, Big Picture fosters student growth and helps them reach their full potential.
Broussard recognizes her own growth at Big Picture, the impact the school and her advisors have had on her and how rewarding it has been for her to be at Big Picture. She said, “Your advisors really get to watch you grow, which I think is really cool because I am nothing like how I was when I started here.”