ArtWork: Celebrating 15 years of School-to-Careers Art Internships

by Katie O'Sullivan

The 15th annual ArtWork exhibition, featuring work created by students and mentors from the Cape Cod and the Islands School-to-Careers Art Internship Program, will be on display from April 27 through May 13 at the Cape Cod Museum of Fine Art. A reception for all of the artists will be held Thursday, May 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The exhibition includes a mix of painting, sculpture, textile design and a variety of other media produced by students during the course of their partnerships with renowned local artists. Their mentors will also have work exhibited.

Sarah Holl's intern Amy Hufnagle with charcoal drawing
Sarah Holl's intern Amy Hufnagle with charcoal drawing

Since 1997, the School-to-Careers Art Internship Program has paired junior and senior high school students with successful working artists. There are two programs each year, in fall and spring where students work with artists for 8 weeks in their studios.

The collaborative environment promotes creative growth of the students and a chance to produce a body of work for their portfolios. Students also gain valuable insight into the real lives and routines of professional artists.

The School-to-Career Art Internship program is administered by the education coordinator at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Students must fill out the application, noting their extracurricular activities and obligations as well as relevant art courses and experiences.

They must also submit an essay outlining their expectations for an internship and preferred artistic medium. A letter of recommendation from an art teacher or guidance counselor must accompany each application, and students must go through an interview process.

"School-to-Careers" is a program of the Cape & Islands Workforce Investment Board (C&I WIB), a regional, non-profit agency responsible for overseeing all public-funded vocational education and training programs.

The School-to-Career partnership program was created in 1996 as a result of the National School to Work Opportunities Act. Currently, more than 200 "employer partners" from across the Cape and Islands work with the C&I WIB to provide approximately 400 paid and unpaid internships. Working together, the partnership provides students the experiences that impact the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be successful in the workplace.

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 Artist Anne Halpin and intern Courtney Look
Artist Anne Halpin and intern Courtney Look

The program brings together schools, businesses, and non-profits to create interesting opportunities for students.

School-to-Careers is based on the premise that education works best when students can connect their academics to the world of work, their future careers, and their daily lives. On-the-job experiences allow students to explore potential careers, think about future goals, and add relevance to their daily academics. Students see the connections between school and work.

Employers support the School to Careers Partnership by providing paid or unpaid internships, job shadows, and mentoring for students. By providing these experiences, employers help students understand the connection between school and work, develop their skills and, most importantly, to see how academic achievement impacts their future careers.

Intern Meghan Purtle with artist Midge Battelle
Intern Meghan Purtle with artist Midge Battelle

The program uses the Work-Based Learning Plan and is continuously refined through feedback received from students, parents, businesses and schools. Employers may also support the Partnership by providing externship opportunities, giving educators the opportunity to visit companies and learn firsthand what skills employers are looking for.

School to Careers Partnerships help develop communication, teamwork and customer service skills. Through their involvement, employers are taking an active role in preparing their workforce of tomorrow while providing meaningful learning opportunities to the students of today. Participation also strengthens relationships with the local community.

Photographs Courtesy of the Cape Cod Museum of Art

Katie O'Sullivan is the editor of this magazine. In addition to editing, Katie writes novels, wrangles her two big dogs and drives the Mom Taxi all over Cape Cod.

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