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Baking Internships on Rise at PHS

Portland High School students started baking as a hobby during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now they are considering it as a career. The Portland High School internship program is going strong, and baking internships have become the most popular offering this year. PHS students are partnering with Tandem Bakery, baristas + bites, Two Fat Cats and Belleville Bakery to learn about a career as a baker.

Snowden Overgaard, a senior at Portland High School, said, “Interning at Tandem Bakery was quintessential in building my basic skills for both a job type environment as well as a topic I’m very interested in. It also helped me finish my capstone project for school and have a great overall learning experience!”

Portland High School’s internship program is going strong. Dozens of students each year participate in the program, which was founded more than a decade ago. The program is open to all students and serves all types of students as evidenced by demographic data on class rank, GPA, race, special education status and multilingual status.

Each year, one career pathway emerges as the most popular among students. Past popular internships have included real estate, veterinary medicine, nursing, and photography.

While Tandem and baristas + bites have been hosting students for several years, this year, student  interest has grown. Students are learning about prep work, packaging, and of course making many kinds of baked goods.

Hannah Buoye, kitchen manager at Tandem Bakery, says the internships benefit both the business and students. "Hosting Portland High School students is a unique opportunity for us to participate in our community and give students insight into a career and business operations,” she said. “It helps us as a business to find individuals who are enthusiastic about baking and potentially want to stay on for further employment. It enriches our staff by adding diversity and perspective and it provides students insight into a food service career path, giving them an opportunity to develop some practical skills like organization, efficiency and problem solving.  Whether or not they continue in the field of baking, it's a wonderful way for us to feel connected to the community and for students to expand their experiences outside of the classroom."

Portland High School junior Josie Fitzjurls completed an internship with baristas + bites last year. Stuart Hewitt, her supervisor said, “Josie came up with an interesting solution to a problem with our production line methodology by suggesting that we change from a squeeze bottle for applying caramel to a piping bag. This has saved us time, money, and physical exertion and is our new preferred method.”

Other current student internship sites include the Boys and Girls Club, Fluky Fiction Publishing, the Greater Portland Community Land Trust, the Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation, SCG, Youth and Family Outreach, the Portland Public Library art gallery, and the engineering, biology, and athletics department at the University of Southern Maine. Some students also are interning with Heidi Nottonson of Keller Williams Realty.

For more information, contact Andrea Levinsky, PHS Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator, at levina@portlandschools.org.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.