Internships for High School Students Create Career Paths


(Junior Tanner Jacobson and senior Joey Coffindaffer welding at Max Manufacturing | Photo courtesy of Bend La Pine School District)

Two welding students from Mountain View High School are finding their career paths through an internship at Max Manufacturing, a metal fabrication shop in northeast Bend. It is part of a growing movement to get students trained in technical skills that will help fill an age gap in experienced workers.

Senior Joey Coffindaffer began his internship in April 2023 and quickly discovered welding at Max Manufacturing was different from what he accomplished in the classroom. He learned high-level technical skills, but also how to meet deadlines, keep his eye on quality control, and perfect communication with coworkers. In the months since spring, his pathway has become clear. Coffindaffer plans on getting his Associate degree from Central Oregon Community College before attending Tulsa Welding Academy, where he aims to earn an applied agricultural science degree.

“The internship is an opportunity you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “I’m learning not just about the trade, but also about communication and business details. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn all of this. This internship is actually a blessing.”

Internships like this one are possible because of forward-thinking businesses like Max Manufacturing. They are also a reality thanks to a collaborative initiative between East Cascades Works and Bend-La Pine Schools. The program is called Youth Career Connect (YCC), which is facilitated by the Youth Compass Program at Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council. Youth Career Connect aims to provide high school students with invaluable real-world experiences through internships in the local community. The program strives to provide for career exploration opportunities for students from all backgrounds.

A direct link to YCC can be found within high school career centers, where representatives meet with students to discuss interests and goals. Students are then onboarded into the Talent Hub platform, where businesses post their opportunities and internship specialists coach students on job-readiness skills. This process allows for students to be serious applicants for when they see an opportunity that is a good match. YCC then offers support to the student and business for the duration of the internship.

Tanner Jacobson, a junior at Mountain View High School, has been in a welding class since his freshman year. Thanks to welding instructor Jeff Papke, the internship became an opportunity and Mr. Papke helped iron out Jacobson’s schedule. He’s only been interning a couple of months but the experience is already making its mark. “If you’re really interested in an opportunity, I would hop on it. You learn so much and it gets you the experience you need to be ready for the real world coming out of high school,” he said. “It’s been a great experience and I’m glad I got offered this opportunity.”

These opportunities are possible thanks to leadership at Max Manufacturing recognizing the value of bringing in young talent. General Manager Mike Garoutte saw his experienced team aging out, and the company needed to bring in a new generation of people to guarantee the longevity of the business. This is the second year they have worked with Mountain View High School on internship opportunities.

Garoutte said he would encourage other businesses to open their doors in the same way. “Established businesses are experiencing the same age gap we did and are concerned about the longevity of their business,” he said. “When they bring in interns to train, they’ll see the value on their own.”

Youth Career Connect is seeking to expand internship opportunities and invites local businesses to consider opening their doors to this rewarding program. Bend-La Pine Schools encourages businesses to participate in this initiative, emphasizing that internships should be structured to provide students with exposure to a specific career field, supported by dedicated staff within the partnering businesses. Employers will benefit by building greater awareness of their business and career opportunities among students and families, and by identifying potential candidates for job openings directly from the internships.

For more information on how to get involved in the Youth Career Connect program, visit


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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