Prisha Patel beams when she talks about her internship at Hines Health Services (HHS).
The grade 12 student at Westwood Community High School began her summer internship with the organization this year, and has thrived, thanks to the mentorship of the company’s owner, and well-known community leader, Kristi Hines.
Prisha, 17, landed the internship through Careers Next Generation, which connects local school students with employers for paid internships. As the technology coordinator for HHS, she oversaw the coordination and integration of an e-commerce platform for the group’s website.
“For the last two months, I have been communicating with vendors across Canada for the project and gathering excess products for the company’s new business path,” explains Prisha, who will be continuing the internship through her school year.
“The mentors, partners and staff at Careers Next Generation have played a crucial part in exposing youth to possibilities. These two months have guaranteed the experience I need for a successful future. I learned what life after school will feel like. It has taught me practical skills. Without the Careers Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and HHS internship program through Careers, I would not have learned these valuable skills.”
Kristi started the company in 2012, which employs 100 people. She remembers seeing Prisha’s resume and being “incredibly impressed by her accomplishments at such a young age, and as a leader, was especially eager to mentor a young and aspiring fellow female in STEM and entrepreneurship.”
“I was aware of the highly accomplished students that come out of Westwood High School’s science program, and those that were specialized in technology through Careers. I decided to hire one, excited to see what they could do and how they could help me build this platform.”
“I wanted to use the opportunity to inspire Prisha and show her how she could take her strong skills in science and apply them in other fields and settings like business. Prisha and I would have hour-long huddles for the project, which quickly became 10-minute huddles. She didn’t need much direction since she showed so much self-drive and an incredible level of intelligence and competency. She accomplished so much at HHS that I have signed a contract with Westwood to keep her with us through the ICT internship program. This means Prisha will gain off-campus, real-world education by completing an apprenticeship with us alongside her studies.”
Prisha is not Kristi’s first intern. She genuinely believes in the power of youth and cultivating the next generation of leaders inspired by her father, who is a businessman, and has a mantra of “helping people up the ladder of life.”
“In 2020, when the pandemic hit, I hired over 100 students with science/healthcare backgrounds to help with the COVID response. These students were phenomenal and really stepped up to help us manage the fluid situation. This really cemented my trust in students and my confidence in their abilities. It made me appreciate how much I enjoy working with the positivity and fresh perspectives of this eager and hardworking upcoming generation.”
For Kristi, mentoring Prisha as a powerful woman in business was a memorable experience.
“Prisha’s ambition made it fun to mentor her — although props to her because she did make it very easy! She is so energetic, motivated, and brilliant, which also inspired me. Through our collaborative relationship, we learned a lot from each other, and gained so much from the experience. In the future I know we’re in good hands if we continue to see more students and women like Prisha.”
About the author
Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.