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The Importance of Apprenticeships and Internships


In May, during national Apprentice Week, CAST hosted a panel for seniors from CAST Med, CAST Tech and the Advanced Learning Academy. Employers including Accenture and the YWCA shared opportunities for young adults to continue learning while working 30 hours a week, with benefits, and with guarantees of wage increases at training milestones.


CAST Schools were created to equally prepare students for college AND career, and one way we test our success is by keeping in close contact with our alumni. As a result, we hear stories of students who have managed, for example, to pay for school through working part-time as a phlebotomist, or at a paid engineering internship, and others who have not gone to college but who have advanced as they’ve acquired new industry-recognized certifications. We have also heard stories of students who have taken retail jobs that do not leverage the technical skills they’ve acquired at our schools, or who have struggled to advance because those around them have credentials they do not.


The 80\20 Foundation is a local foundation that invested early in CAST Tech High School, first contributing to startup funds for the building renovation. One of my favorite memories of its founder, Graham Weston, was when he attended an event celebrating CAST supporters and ended up recording and sharing testimonials from about a dozen members of the first graduating class. Most recently, the Foundation has invested in a new project where we will attempt to track down alumni who are not in college to reconnect them to opportunities where they can make most use of their technical and other skills, including apprenticeships.


Foundation Director Alexandra Frey shared a bit of her story, earning her job while waiting tables while attending college, and landing a job through her networking abilities. That lens, she said, taught her that college may not be the sole answer for everyone, and 80\20 is committed to ensuring that students have the credentials and experience that make them ready for jobs.


Like with high school internships in the past, CAST will not ask employers to do anything it won’t do itself, and as part of this project, we are hiring 2 apprentices this year to help manage this work. We’re so grateful to 80\20 for their support, and also to the national Catalyze Challenge, which has been instrumental in helping us create new connections to apprenticeships. We’ll be introducing our two apprentices after the July 4 holiday; we can’t wait for you to meet them!


Jeanne Russell

Executive Director

CAST Schools


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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.