Derick Johnson isn’t sure what he wants to do after high school---yet. But after interning this summer for Ken’s Body and Paint, he has a better idea.
“I want to be a photographer or work in an auto body shop---or both,” he said as he sanded the body of a Toyota Land Rover.
“I’ve been working on it,” he added, indicating the Rover. “The guy wants a new paint job; he wants it to look classic.”
Johnson has spent the last six weeks with A.J. Halda, owner of Ken’s Body and Paint, learning every aspect of the business, from customer service to sanding and painting vehicles. Johnson, who will be a sophomore at Mazama High School, is among 18 Klamath Basin students who participated in the Basin Partners Internship Program.
The program, which started in 2016 as a partnership between the Klamath County School District, Oregon State University Klamath Basin Research and Extension Service and the Southern Oregon Education Service District, is open to all students in the Basin. The goal is to provide local students with work experience and exposure to career fields.
Participants contribute $1,200 to the program. Of that, the interns earn a $1,000 stipend for interning for 120 to 140 hours over a six-week period.
This was Halda’s first summer participating as a host for the program. He enjoyed watching Johnson learn new skills and mature over the weeks he interned at the shop.
“I think the bang for the buck is there,” he said. “I would give him a shot at learning the trade.”
This summer, the program included students from Bonanza, Hosanna, Triad, Mazama, Henley and Lost River high schools. To participate, students must have completed their freshman year of high school. Students apply to the program like they would a job---creating a resume that includes their GPA and other significant achievements. A committee determines whether the student gets into the program and their placement with a business or organization.