Students and Organizations Benefit from High School Internships

By: Carrie Baroody, Internship Director

Internships provide a win-win opportunity for students in the form of real-world, experiential learning with adults in specific career fields. The organizations where students intern benefit from the connections they make with young people to their professions and the youthful ideas and perspectives they bring. Learn more about the value of internships in high school here.

The takeaways from students going out into the workforce and learning about careers in real time are invaluable. Student interns participate in real-world learning experiences beyond those in their regular courses. At Field, upper school students have the opportunity to engage in “full-time” two-week internships, giving them exposure to specific career fields and a chance to immerse in the day-to-day operations of their host organization. This practical learning experience is much greater than what a student acquires on a field trip or career shadow day, and the learning comes directly from adults who are not their regular teachers. These hosts help students learn and develop their strengths and improvement areas. Getting feedback at a young age prepares students for college and beyond.

Internships allow students to get out of their comfort zone and learn and stretch in new ways. Students learn specifically about what happens in a particular industry, business, office, classroom, courtroom, or operating room. They learn valuable professional communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. Many interns attend staff and client meetings, presentations, and site visits. They learn about the inner workings, including office politics, cubicles, and terms like "business casual."
“The true beauty of this program rests in the confidence, trust, and intellectual curiosity the school instills in its students. Confidence and intellectual curiosity are the intangible and highly coveted factors that many look for in potential college students, and in the world beyond school. We recognize that everyone is capable of doing the work, but having a level of confidence and intellectual curiosity is something that can't be taught from scratch. This program helps students tap into their intellectual curiosity and confidence at an early age and the sky is the limit!” ~Caleb Williamson, ACT | The App Association
Field’s Internship Program Stands Out  

The Field School has a long history of partnering with organizations throughout the DMV that host our students "out in the field" on two-week internships. Each year, students can apply to one or more of the partner internships offered by our 200+ host partners or pursue a self-identified, interest-driven position at an organization that isn't on the partner list. 

Some DC examples from this year include two students who spent time with a long-time partner and Urologist observing patient care and surgeries and another student who reached out to NBC-4 Monumental Sports with a cold call that garnered an internship shadowing reporters for the Wizards and researching hockey teams. Not all of our students intern in DC or the immediate region. Some pursue niche interests with organizations farther afield, including School Hill Garden and Tiny Acre Farm in Virginia, Warrior Sound Studio in North Carolina, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In many cases, these experiences inspire students to continue on these paths as they begin their college search process and think about their future careers.

First-time interns enroll in a semester-long elective, and all interns gain support from a team of Field faculty members who serve as mentors in the process. The elective class ensures that students have time carved out of their schedules to learn and practice the necessary job search skills, including brainstorming, networking, professional telephone and email etiquette, interviewing, and more. Interns also write resumes, participate in lessons on personal branding and build profiles for social media networking platforms such as LinkedIn.
As many students complete multiple internships during high school, their resumes grow, and their job search skills also compound. Students learn what they DO and DO NOT like about the variety of internships they complete. This insight is particularly valuable as high school students begin to think about potential majors or college/university programs. Students connect and begin to mentor each other through the process.

“Giving high school students the opportunity to experience the real world in different ways is an invaluable experience - one that I wish I had growing up. By creating a space where students can learn experientially, we can better prepare students for what to expect as college students and beyond.” ~Jamie Robinson, Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Connections and Contributions
Student interns make valuable connections and add to their professional network for future internships, summer programs, conversations, and employment opportunities. This year alone, 55% of respondents to a Field Intern Survey were offered ongoing or summer internships, and 13% were offered post-internship paying jobs. Students gain further clarity for their education path and make valuable contacts who can help expose and direct them into programs that match their skills and interests.
As a final contribution to the organization, students participate in meaningful work as they collaborate with their hosts to create an Intern Initiative project. This project considers the skills they bring to the internship and what they have learned during the two weeks. A sampling of projects from this year's internships includes creating marketing materials; preparing briefs; reporting on patient care, hearings, trials, and legislation; and producing videos. 
Hosts often share that their student intern was the spark their team needed to inspire a project, finish a project, or solidify processes through the questions they asked and the perspective they provided.

“Deontae was a great student to work with. He showed a high level of independence, integrity, creativity, responsibility, patience, and hard work. He worked well with all members of our team and offered great insights to help our team grow. He made it easy for us to accept another student from The Field School’s program." -Chaplain Robin Walker, University of Maryland Capital Region

“Lia was terrific! She was thoughtful and communicative at every turn and was an absolute star in her presentation to me and a few additional colleagues. Not only was her presentation thorough and thoughtful, but it was compelling in such a way that we're going to explore her recommendations.” ~Maureen McNally, Mission Wired
Both students, their hosts, and host organizations gain much from Field's Internship program. We are continually amazed at the depth of knowledge and inspiration our students bring back and share. In addition to their comprehensive education at Field, this experience is another "ah-ha" moment for our students, and we're excited to support their journey.