Paid internships impacting the lives of high school seniors

COOKEVILLE – Employers in Jackson and Putnam counties are making an incredible impact on the lives of students participating in the Highlands Paid Internship Program. 2021/22 marks the fifth academic year Jackson and Putnam County school systems have partnered with Highlands Workforce Development and Education staff to offer this opportunity to students. 

Internships are intended to introduce students to careers aligned with their individual skills and interests and give them hands-on experience in their career paths of choice, thereby putting them on the path to success in life after high school. Not only does this program benefit students, but it is also meeting a need for employers who participate. 

Perhaps the biggest advocates for this program are the students. Not only is this an opportunity for them to earn money, it provides a great learning experience. 

One high school student stated, “I was eager to start working and earn money, but I was really wanting to find a place where I could gain work experience that was related to my [future] college degree.” 

Another commented, “In addition to the emotional and moral development I have learned from [my internship], I also learned how to work hard and manage my time effectively.” 

A combined total of 50 students will be selected from Jackson and Putnam counties to participate in internships this year. 

“Students are selected through an interview process with employers having the opportunity to engage with students and choose the best candidate(s) to meet the needs of their business,” said Rhonda England, Putnam County Academic Career Coach. This also allows students to meet and learn more about the employers offering these paid internships.

Employers will fund 50% of the student’s salary and the remaining 50% will be funded by a private donor who played a prominent role in the launch of this program. 

“We are incredibly grateful to the donor for partnering with the Highlands Economic Partnership to offer this opportunity to students,” commented Kaitlin Salyer, Workforce Development and Education Director.

Interviews are scheduled to take place Friday, Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the Leslie Town Centre. Internships are anticipated to begin in September and conclude May 2021. To learn more about this program or to discuss offering internships at your business, contact Kaitlin Salyer at or 931-526-2211.

Launched in 2006, the Highlands Economic Partnership is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties.

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