Internships and Field Experiences for Credit

Give students time and credit for discovering and exploring their passion before deciding on a major and/or career- learn by doing.

Photo of Norka Padilla
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This idea is a result of a "POP-UP" brainstorming session yesterday where about 15 of us gathered thanks to Coach Charlie Shryock. We came to a consensus about the need to have students be provided time and credit for meaningful internships in the community, with businesses, government agencies, and even within the actual school. Real world experiences could also include field trips connected to project based learning for credit. We all learn best through "doing."  In order to support effective internships their would need to be student choice, flexibility, and an adult coordinator or mentor for accountability and to support meaningful student reflection. As with most ideas, some sort of technology app with visuals and encouragement- of even a portfolio or sharing community online would be added value.

This is a draft basic idea- and YOU are encouraged to add on to help develop it. 


Join the conversation:

Photo of Susan Scranton

Hi Norka,

I liked how you stated 'meaningful' internships, since this is key to opening student's eyes to the range of work opportunities available in society. I think this might be the best way to illustrate 'exciting' paths and directions for young people. Most high schools today offer credits for 'Co-operative Education', which (where I am from) seem to include working in a dentist office, or at a clothing store at a mall. I would love to see large Corporations offering more Internships to High School students, since they have the greatest diversity in roles.  Here, a student may witness and work with graphic artists, enterprise IT Architects, business development professionals, or finance management people. These interactions will help formulate preferences in students minds, and help them reach higher toward meaningful career choices.   In today's fragile economy, how do you think we can expand meaningful internships for young people?  Youth unemployment statistics suggest there are fewer jobs for young people. How do we fix this, and get better at demonstrating possibility?

Photo of Mark Carlucci

Meaningful internships are key. A large number of co-op students in my school seem to end up as educational assistants in elementary schools, in many cases because there are no others positions available.

While I am looking at my schools co-op program from the outside, it seems to me that limited placement opportunities come from a mix of the students and employers.

The co-op placements at my school are for half-days. Due to scheduling, many students that end up in co-op are non-academic students. This unfortunately brings down the expectations of everyone involved in the program. Many of these students have difficulty in academic settings so they are not trusted to go into areas the require skill and ability.

Many employers find these students a burden. Some need extra support or time to learn job skills, and employers find them an expense (due to time spend with student) they don't want. There is also the instance where an employer gets a poor candidate that is absent or lazy. This dissuades the employer from taking a future student and, as the experience is shared, dissuades other employers as well.

I am not entire sure about a fix. However, I think one thing that could really help is spending more time with potential co-op employers, educating them of the benefits of supporting a student and what they should be expecting.  

Another thing that may help is developing community connections with the school and not just the co-op program. Finding a way to get businesses to connect with the school and various classes may provide all parties with an idea of how valuable these experiences can be.

Photo of Michael Weimann

Hi Norka,

I really love this idea. I went to college when I was 18 simply because it was the 'thing to do', but had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Given the enormous cost of higher education, that was far from a practical approach.

I could see a non-profit organization partnering with multiple corporations to allow students to shadow different career paths on a short-term basis, then maybe help them find an internship based on what–if any–field sparks an interest.