Some former Tehachapi High School students are making good use of their summer break and interning at local businesses while putting valuable skills to work from classes and programs taken before they graduated.

“With my goal to pursue an aerospace career, this internship is a great opportunity and a privilege for me to see a typical day at work and gain experience,” said Chloe Shadduck, an intern at Sierra Technical Services, Inc., who joined this summer. She was a former student of the Tehachapi High School Cyber Penguins Team robotics program.

Shadduck said she hopes to one day become a manager for an aerospace company after completing her bachelor’s degree.

Andres Pina, also an intern at Sierra Technical Services, Inc. said hearing about classmates’ experiences helped him reach out for an internship and in turn, he wants to motivate others.

“I want to inspire others to get that internship and gain experience and then go to college,” Pina said.

Pina said the skills he learned in the robotics program — math, engineering, coding and science — help him to participate in building composites, electrical work and other technical jobs through the internship.

Both Shadduck and Pina plan to pursue a career in engineering and science.

Antonio Sanchez, a previous intern at South Street Digital, was recently hired at the company. He reached out for work experience five months ago, with the help of a THS teacher, and the internship has helped him gain valuable skills to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

“It’s going to affect your future the same way as a paying job would,” Sanchez said. “Even if you are not being paid, it’s effectively the same, because someone you have an internship with can recommend you to other jobs and it’s best to work as much as you can.”

Teachers realize that internships help local students grow and explore career paths.

“Our students don’t just learn skills in designing and building, they learn to communicate their ideas, collaborate with their peers and industry mentors and how to ask for and receive help or advice. Throughout their time in the robotics club our students are learning and discovering what STEM fields resonate with them,” said Danielle Evansic, seventh-grade math teacher and robotics adviser.

Business owners who host students for internships also see the benefits it has for everyone in the community.

Sierra Technical Services, Inc. has provided internships for the last three years and roughly eight to 10 students from THS have gone through the program.

“I think our internship here at Sierra technical Services has been very successful for exposing high school students and college students in the aerospace industry and what it has to offer,” said Glenn Amacher, vice president and general manager of Sierra Technical Services. He added, “Interns have the opportunity to learn some of the design aspects as well as the some of the manufacturing of building an aircraft.”

Lydia Chaney, owner of South Street Digital, said this is the first year the company has provided an internship program.

She said,“It is important that we help the next generation get a foothold in the working environment. We hope that with us, the students learn how to be on time, be prepared for their work day, how to talk and work with adults. We encourage their input. When they leave high school, whether off to college or to work, we hope that we have helped them along their way.”