Thousand of businesses support high school internships each year, and we are excited that 48 East Bay businesses will be hosting one or multiple WCCUSD Pathway students this summer.
Research indicates that these students gain a wide range of benefits from internships including knowledge about careers within an industry, technical skills, work-related preferences, leading ultimately to a stronger fit with post-secondary pathways earlier in one’s career.
For employers, interns provide additional labor with a range of potential including supporting “back-burner” projects that bring value to the company but would not otherwise be done, they may be a way to “try out” a potential employee (which has happened with a few of our district partners). In addition, interns contribute to public relations since they are likely to tell friends, family, and their career counselors about the company and what a great place it is to work. See CDI_Maertzetal 2014 Benefits Chart on the benefits of internships for students and employers, or read the full report: Maertz, Carl & Stoeberl, Philipp & Marks, Jill. (2014). Building successful internships: Lessons from the research for interns, schools, and employers. Career Development International. 19(1).
The benefits of a high school internship can be significant, but success is not guaranteed.
How can students best grow and learn through these experiences while at the same time providing valuable services for their employers?
To answer this questions we sat down with Mary Kadri, the Work-Based Learning Pathways Coordinator for WCCUSD Pathways Program. Here are Mary’s top tips for employers to ensure a meaningful experience with their high school intern:
Select a Time-Bound Project
Make sure you determine a project that they intern can complete within the timeframe of the internship. This ensures the student has the satisfaction of completing a project, even if it is just a piece of a larger company initiative. For the employer, a time-bound project also ensures you will be able to better evaluate how a student manages and follows-through on an assignment.
Identify a Main Supervisor
Often times employers may be tempted to delegate supervision responsibilities amongst a team or several staff members. While this can be a great way for the intern to learn about various roles and management styles, make sure there is one person that can provide regular and constructive feedback during the duration of the internship.
Assign New and Challenging Tasks, But Provide Support
We want our interns to be stretched and grow through the process so when assigning them real tasks, don’t shy away from having them do research or undertake a new duty. Just make sure to provide guided practice if you are unsure of the intern’s abilities or they need additional support.
Share Your Feedback
Many internships, including those with WCCUSD, require a baseline and ending evaluation of the intern’s performance. Direct feedback from an employer is a valuable way for the student to hear (both good and bad) the impact they are having at your company. Make sure to share this feedback with your intern before or after an exit interview, and prior to submitting the feedback to the coordinating teacher and/or school administrator.
Share Those Photos!
Photos are a great way to showcase your intern’s work and their role in the workplace, as well as bringing recognition to your organization for partnering with the school district. Be sure to snap photos, or encourage your intern to document their work. You can share photos with us on Twitter @WCCUSDPathways or by emailing them to Mary Kadri at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our students will be showcasing your organization and their work over the summer at our culminating poster session on July 30th.
Thank you to all the organizations that are hosting high school interns this summer! We can’t wait to hear your stories of success.