Thursday, June 21, 2012

Six steps to helping students become career ready by learning through internships

Schools that honor passion-led learning often support young people in learning through internships. This is a core part of learning at Big Picture Schools where at The MET, their flagship school, this manifests itself as every student spending two days out of the building an in the world. 

When people hear this they often wonder how on earth a school could find such opportunities for EVERY student. The secret is they don't. They empower the students to find and often create their own internship learning.

Here's what I learned from speaking to students and staff at 
The MET about how they do it.

  1. Discover - Talk to students about what they love to help them discover what they are passionate about.
  2. Research - Which organizations may help you learn more about your area of interest.
  3. Contact - Contact organizations of interest. Explain you are a student interested in exploring your passion and ask if you can interview some staff.
  4. Shadow - When you find organizations you like, ask if you can shadow a staff member for the day. You may ask for a day with staff in a few different parts of the organization.
  5. Connect - When you shadow someone you connect with ask for either 1) another day to shadow or 2) if they would consider mentoring you as an intern for a semester.
  6. Evaluate - Throughout the semester consider if your mentor and the internship is the right fit. What can be improved? What works?  If this seems like a good fit speak to your mentor about continuing on. If it does not seem like a good fit, evaluate what you've learned and begin exploring other options.

Anthony Cody recently showed us that the failure of schools is not that they are not teaching students to become skilled workers, but instead it is not giving them enough experience with doing things in the world. Employers don't want to hire people who are "trained" to do things. They want people that have actually done things. This is a lesson that many home education families learned long ago. 
Today's employers are not hiring people because they have a good GPA, but rather because they have on the job experience. If we truly want to prepare young people for career success, then we will support them in getting real-world opportunities that will result in gaining the experience that employers are looking for when they hire.

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