Internships represent a significant milestone for a P-TECH student, signaling that the student is ready — academically and emotionally — to leave the safe haven of the school and take on an actual job assignment in a real workplace.
Internships are designed to deepen and broaden students’ skills and knowledge of the industry. The P-TECH school’s Skills Map should be used to identify the specific skills students should develop during their internships. The Skills Map also works as a reference to inform assessments of both the student and the internship at the end of the placement.
Students can be placed individually or in groups and asked to produce work in a team setting, which mirrors what many actual employees do. All students are paid by the employer, ensuring that their internships resemble real world jobs, that their work is of value to the employer and that they are not deterred from meaningful work experiences because they need to find a job that makes money.
A significant amount of preparation goes into internship development and placement. Students create professional profiles that present qualifications relevant to their industry. For example, students focused on IT might create online portfolios that detail not only their academic accomplishments, but also links to websites or apps they have created.
Students also require preparation through workshops that cover “dressing for success,” workplace etiquette, resume writing, and “mock” interviews. While the goal is to provide all eligible students with an internship, internships can still be competitive, and students should expect to interview for positions.
Similarly, employers need training and preparation to provide these skilled, but young, students with the appropriate level of support and supervision.
Internships often begin the summer after Year 3, when students have completed some college coursework and acquired significant technical and workplace skills. It is up to the school and its partners to outline the criteria that determine when students are ready.
For example, students may be eligible for an internship once they have all of the following:
- Completed Year 3
- Taken at least one college class
- Achieved a specific grade point average
Because internships launch as early as Year 3, when students are around 16 years old, school partners and employers should create internships that provide educational bridge experiences in which students are learning and contributing to the best of their ability.
Internship Program Expansion
P-TECH schools should develop a network of industry partners to sustain the required number of student internships over time. This is critical for several reasons.
Even a large Industry Partner may not be able to provide the sufficient number of high-quality, skills-based, paid internships required for all students as the school grows. In addition, it is important to provide students with a variety of industry experiences, rather than only the perspective of the lead industry partner.
Not all partners have to make the same level of commitment as the lead partner, but they will be essential to the long-term success of the school.