There are some careers students may not be immediately exposed to in school, and one of those, according to Lynchburg City Assessor Jeff Bandy is the real estate industry — a huge market right now, he said.

He and Steven Wilder, an appraiser in his office, worked to come up with a plan that could help more high school students be productive adults and expose them to a new career field they may know very little about.

The two said they began talking about what they could do for students in the area to help them make career choices last fall and landed on a plan for a 12-week internship opportunity available to seniors in the Lynchburg area called the Real Estate Professions Internship.

The goal of the internship, which kicks off mid-February, is for students to be able to explore potential careers through real-world experiences with Lynchburg real estate professionals.

According to the Virginia Department of Education’s “Profile of a Virginia Graduate,” students must acquire certain knowledge, skills, attributes and experiences to graduate and obtain future success. One piece of that is career planning, which provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the employment options and career paths they first explored in elementary and middle school.

“To me the most impressive piece of this project is that area business professionals partnered together to connect with the schools,” Wilder said. “Internships are nothing new. But the partnering is new. The Profile of a Virginia Graduate is going to need this kind of collaboration from the business community in order to succeed. Schools can’t do it on their own. They need the business community.”

During the internship, partners from the city as well as First National Bank, Reliance Title & Settlement, Mark A. Dalton & Co., a real estate agency, and Belong Here will cover information about appraisal, planning, investment, sales, titles, closing and lending. Each session with the six partners lasts two weeks and takes place after school hours. Each session, held once per week, is two to three hours long. The total internship time is 24 to 36 hours. The internship is unpaid but a certificate and small stipend will be awarded upon completion, which is funded personally by the hosts or others who chip in.

Wilder said there is no cost associated with the program. All hosts are volunteering their time.

Transportation is the responsibility of the intern.

The internship is open to seniors with a near perfect attendance record, GPA above 3.0 and stated interest in real estate as a career. Only one student will be chosen. Wilder said if the first year is a success, the program may open up for more students in the future.

Information on career and education pathways will be provided and students will connect with numerous real estate professionals.

“Because the real estate community is so large, we wanted to get somebody from pretty much every corner,” Wilder said.

Joshua Redmond, Realtor with Mark A. Dalton & Co., will be talking to students about sales, investment and the home buying process and said he’s excited for the program because he remembers wishing he had something similar offered to him at that age.

Redmond said he was intrigued by real estate as a teenager and got his real estate license at the age of 18.

“I had zero training or experience and really desired something like this but didn’t know who to reach out to or where to begin,” he said. “I felt that being an agent wouldn’t be attainable at that age so I didn’t end up doing anything with my license.”

Working with these students will show them whether or not their personalities might mix well with real estate, he said, and will show them how to work with other agents as well as people in general.

“I think it’s important at a young age to educate people on professions that might interest them. Real estate is a position that simply requires a high school education and could be a great fit for someone not entertaining the college option,” he said.

Buying a house is one of the biggest expenses someone can make in their life, Bandy said, and it’s a major decision.

“But no one’s really talking about how to be wise about buying a home,” he said.

Though he would love for students to stay in the city, he said the real goal of the internship is to provide exposure.

Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.

Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.

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