JOPLIN, Mo. — The advantage of an internship is that it helps students find out for sure if a particular profession is for them.

One such area program has been so successful that it’s experiencing growing pains.

Students aren’t the only ones that can benefit from an internship program, so can business owners.
Just ask Christine Baird, who owns Footprints & Friends Too daycare in Joplin and says the Franklin Tech Early Childhood Professions program is a perfect example.

“I had two centers at the time and I was running into the problems that I was going to be short-staffed, and I got a hold of Ashlee and I was like, do you have anyone that’s 18 and older that went through your program that I could hire, and that’s how I found a few of my hires. So, because that happened, I filled the last two spots and so we did survive covid,” said Baird.

One of those interns Baird met through the Franklin Tech program and ended up hiring was Alexus Ritter.

“It really helped me with what I needed to know before I came in here. What, like, practices was, and safety, and all that stuff,” said Ritter.

Olivia Putney says the program gave her a leg up on potential hires that didn’t have any practical daycare experience.

“It made me feel a little more secure that I kind of had a basis of what I knew to do, and I wasn’t going in blind so it kind of made me feel more calm,” said Putney.

The Franklin Tech Early Childhood Professions program has become so popular in the three years it’s been offered, that it’s expanding.

Instructor Ashlee Horton says the reason is twofold. One is the increasing need for qualified daycare employees. The other is the popularity of the program among students.

“Anywhere from in the past, 20 to 30 each year, and it grows a little bit more every year. Then this next semester we have 11 seniors, but we have almost thirty juniors coming in,” said Horton.

Horton says not all program participants are young women, and regardless of gender, graduates often times use their practical experience as a springboard into a teaching career.