While the majority of Questar III Career & Technical Education students participate in an internship at a local business, some seniors from the Rensselaer Educational Center in Troy have the opportunity for a different and unique work-based learning experience. Since 2011, Questar III has coordinated with the University at Albany to provide internships for our students through their Facilities Maintenance Department.
With a large campus that meets the needs of over 17,000 students, UAlbany is really like a small city unto itself. From academic buildings to student housing, performing arts venues, food service areas and athletic facilities, the Facilities Maintenance Department has a staff with a variety of technical skills and expertise to keep the campus running smoothly and efficiently.
Former REC Construction Technologies Teacher Joe Mix made the initial connection with the university. Since his retirement, REC Work-Based Learning Coordinator Teresa Mills manages the relationship. She oversees all aspects of arranging student internships and has been the guiding force to connect with UAlbany staff, making sure all the correct paperwork is completed, students are matched with the department that is most related to a student’s CTE program, and monitoring the student’s work during their time at UAlbany. Mills says the connection with the university is valuable for a number of reasons.
“Having these trade professionals take the time to work with and share their knowledge with REC interns is an incredible gift to our students. They are able to get real-life experience on actual work projects at UAlbany and are learning from people who have a vast range of knowledge and abilities. In addition to learning technical skills, internships like these demonstrate to students the importance of ‘soft skills’ such as having a good work ethic, working as a team, being willing to learn and the importance of asking relevant questions from more experienced workers.”
The students agree internships at the University are a fantastic experience. Dylan, a Senior at Hoosic Valley CSD in the Construction Technologies program, worked in the carpentry shop.
“We worked on installing floor tiles and countertop laminates. This gave us experience for a what a job would really be like.”
Landon, an HVAC Senior also from Hoosic Valley CSD worked in the electrical department and agreed.
“This was a real-world experience. People talk about what it’s like in the workplace, but this as really experiencing it. I helped install hand dryers around campus, pulled wires, and operated inside the bucket truck while staff were changing lights on campus.”
Both students appreciated their internship, but were also glad to be back in class continuing to learn skills that will prepare them for college and careers. Landon plans to attend Hudson Valley Community College to become an electrician, and Dylan plans to attend SUNY Delhi or SUNY Cobleskill and hopes to one day have a landscaping business.
This fall, only HVAC and Construction students interned at UAlbany, but the university will host Auto Services students later in the school year. Questar III is greatly appreciative to UAlbany and all the helpful staff there who provide such a great experience for REC interns.