High school auto mechanic internship program prepares students for future careers

High school students in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are “keeping the city running,” according to an Education Week video about the city’s Office of Fleet Management Auto Mechanic Internship Program.

The Office of Fleet Management is in charge of keeping city vehicles available, dependable, and safe. Its internship program, started in 1993, employs students who are enrolled in auto mechanic programs at local high schools to repair and maintain the city’s fleet of automobiles, trucks, and other vehicles. Students learn a trade from professionals already working in the field and develop skills they need to be productive in the workforce after graduation.

“I was looking for a career but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew I was good at fixing things, so thought, why not be a mechanic?” one student shared in the video.

Another program participant highlighted the importance of learning a trade, even if it doesn’t end up being a long-term career choice. “It’s still a trade that you can carry with you.”

While the internship program is paid, it does require students to complete their high school education. Students typically go to school from 8:30am to 3:00pm and then work (a minimum of 10 hours per week) in the city’s garages, rotating jobs to learn skills in all departments of the automotive industry.

“I do preventive maintenance, inspection, which teaches you problem-solving skills,” another student shared. “You have to analyze a car and figure out what’s wrong with it.”

Providing students with the chance to discover their passions and learn valuable skills sets them up for success in the future. According to Pennsylvania’s Association of Career and Technical Administrators, many students who completed the program are now working full-time jobs with Philadelphia’s Office of Fleet Management.

View the Education Week video highlighting the internship program here.