ANDREW RUFF, A sophomore at Anne Arundel Community College, has a better idea of what he's going to be doing when he graduates than do many of his contemporaries.
He owes a lot of this confidence to something he did in 1998, when he was a senior at Annapolis Area Christian School. That's when he signed up for the annual Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce's student intern program.
Like many in high school, Andrew was attracted to several career options -- computer science and the law were of particular interest to him. His internship at Elmore & Associates, a law firm in Olde Severna Park, helped him make up his mind.
"When I went into the program, I just wanted to see what went on in a law firm," says Andrew, "and I guess test the waters. It definitely helped. I ended up going with computer science, but it was definitely a great experience interacting with the lawyers."
The son of Frank and Lorraine Ruff of Davidsonville, Andrew is considering colleges in Pennsylvania and New York. He remembers the internship as something he'd recommend to other high school students.
"I did it when I was a senior, and maybe it helped being a little more mature, but it's interesting regardless of age."
Helping a student make wise career choices is just one of the program's benefits.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for business owners to get acquainted with potential employees, as well as influence the people coming up," says Severna Park attorney Kathleen Elmore, whose firm has supported the program.
Elmore was so satisfied with Andrew that, when his internship was finished, she hired him to work as a clerk in her office while he attends community college full time.
"He does filing, and he answers the phone and does some legwork for us. He is excellent," says his mentor.
"This program helps high school students learn how to be professional. We tried to show Andrew all aspects of the law. We took him down to the legislature to see how the laws are made. We took him to meet the judges, who were very cooperative. District Court Judge Megan B. Johnson met with Andrew in her chambers.
"Seeing what we do in this office has helped him choose a direction," Elmore says, "even if it's not the law."
The internship program is accepting applications for the next session, scheduled to begin in early February.
When students fill out the applications, they list the types of businesses they're interested in, such as architecture, retailing, or graphic design, and the chamber will recruit appropriate companies. The teens spend about three months working with people in their dream professions.
Applicants will be notified of their placements by Jan. 28.
"The hours are flexible, about two to four hours a week," says Linda Zahn, executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce. The program continues into early May.
Applications are available at Annapolis Area Christian School, Severn School, and Archbishop Spalding and Severna Park high schools.
Information: Linda Zahn, 410-647-3900.
From noon to 3: 30 p.m. on Saturday, rain or shine, help St. Martin's-In-The-Field Day School harvest income at its most important fund-raiser of the year -- the annual fall festival.
The festival will include a silent auction for such items as tickets to Orioles, Ravens and Baltimore Blast games, or the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Leave with a year of lessons at the Carter School of Dance, a Longaberger basket for a friend, or dinner for yourself.
Theme baskets also are up for auction -- among them American Girl Doll, Pokemon and Barbie, plus gourmet foods.
But don't forget, the event is especially for children. The $3 admission fee includes games, prizes, crafts and pony rides. New this year are T-shirt painting, bead crafts and a Cecil the Sea Monster moon bounce and slide.
St. Martin's is at 375 Benfield Road, three miles east of Interstate 97.