SAN ANTONIO — Lunchtime looked a little different for some students at Southwest ISD. Instead of dining in their school's cafeteria, about a dozen juniors and seniors were recognized for earning a big internship.

"It's something special," senior Sergio Nunez said. "My grandma's like, 'you're our only hope.' So no pressure at all!"

Nunez earned an internship with Holt last year, alongside a handful of other Southwest ISD students. For 15 hours each week, they gain real-life experience working for the mechanic or business and IT teams.

Monday, the company signed nine new high school interns from the school district.

Tony Spalding, the program's director, said this internship opens opportunities for the participants in the future. "Our goal is to turn everybody into a full-time employee," he said.

The program was developed in North Texas in 2012. Roughly half the interns turn into full-time employees.

"We have a huge deficit of tradesmen and craftspeople to work in the industry," Spalding said. "These are good jobs and a good career with great benefits. It's college for some - but not for others."

However, some, like Sergio, will get the best of both worlds. He's going to UTSA next fall, and hopes to return to Holt once he graduates college.

"I'm pretty proud to work at Holt," he said.