Summer Internship Program Inspires Student Interest in Education and Youth Development
September 7, 2022
In addition to the time NIOST typically spends in the field during the summer months observing and investigating summer learning and camp programs, this summer we also had the privilege of intensely observing high school and college interns hard at work in these programs.
This year the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program funded a pilot summer internship program for high school students interested in the education field. These paid summer interns worked at 21st CCLC sites to gain valuable learning experiences and professional development. Programs were thrilled to welcome these future educators, who brought new energy and enthusiasm to their work with youth.
NIOST provided additional training to program leaders managing interns at their sites and observed interns in action at 14 school districts—documenting and detailing intern leadership, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving experiences. We also conducted focus groups with interns at four programs. Interns appreciated being treated as teachers, creating and executing their own lesson plans, and acquiring a sense of what it’s like to be in charge of a group of youth. They valued building relationships with youth and gained confidence in their abilities to resolve conflict, adapt to changing situations, and communicate clearly.
Insight into the world of teaching was a common theme. One intern commented: “Rather than other odd jobs I’ve done, this shows you what it’s like to be an actual teacher. And seeing how the teachers deal with situations has really helped me a lot.” Another intern commented on the overall experience, saying, “I honestly feel like I’m almost a teacher already because the kids call me Ms. [formal name]. We have a responsibility… and we do it.” Another said, “Having the commitment to this Monday through Thursday every day for teenagers is definitely a big responsibility.” One teen summed up: “Honestly, this is my first job ever. And I have to say, it’s been the best.”
The interns now head back to their own schools with a different perspective: Having helped to plan and supervise learning for younger youth, they will see their own learning through a new lens. And hopefully for some, their summer experiences will spark or build on career aspirations. We were thrilled to be a part of this pilot program and to join with others in bringing more young people into education and youth work. (Read about the interns’ experiences at Wareham Elementary School in Wareham Week.)