Hello, Rachel? This is your wake-up call.
This summer, my daughter Rachel turns 14, which means she will be moving on to high school next year. As such, over the summer she will be participating in a summer internship program at the local humane society. I personally never participated in an internship program (I was too busy swimming in the backyard pool), but sitting through an orientation meeting last week opened my eyes to how truly great this opportunity will be, not only for her, but for all the students that participate this summer. Here are just some of the benefits of participation in the program:
#1 – Teaches students the value of hard work
After the school year was over, the last thing I wanted to do was work, so I goofed off a lot, but not so for these interns. As a student, you sit at a desk almost all day (that sounds familiar), you get an hour for lunch where you get to socialize with friends, and your day ends around 2 o’clock—not too shabby. As an intern, your day starts at 8, you get to clean kennels, walk and feed the animals, and pretty much do stuff that you wouldn’t wear your nice clothes to do, all until around 5 o’clock. If you want credit, you better fill out your time sheets. Oh, and don’t expect the leaders to come chase you down. If you don’t turn in your hours, you basically worked for free. Welcome to the real world, kid.
What’s the payoff for such dedication? Forty hours of work earns the student ¼ college credits. Some interns will earn a full credit by the end of the summer, and if a student interns for four years, they could be entering college with four credits under their belt. That translates into about $3,600 at a private four-year college.
#2 – Teaches students personal responsibility
This year has been a struggle for Rachel. Now that she’s a teenager, she is expected to take more care of herself. This involves a lot of coaxing from mom and dad to maintain personal hygiene, turn in assignments on time, and act more independently in general. The internship program reinforces this by requiring students to take personal ownership of their work schedule, which means not only working with the leaders to schedule days (at least five 8-hour days are required for credit), but also for letting leaders know when they will be late, or if things need to be rescheduled. Now this may seem like no big deal, but you have to remember Rachel has been operating in a world where this sort of stuff has been dictated to her. Now she must exercise this kind of responsibility on her own.
#3 – Gives students a chance to switch course BEFORE they enter college
I entered college with the aspirations of being a veterinarian. I graduated with a degree in statistics. It would have been nice if I could have experimented in these areas prior to switching horses midstream (if you know what I mean). Rachel, like her dad, aspires to be an animal doctor. This internship will give her a good dose of what life is really like behind the clean rooms and tables at the vet. Whether this affirms her desire to pursue veterinary medicine, or convinces her to steer clear, at least we won’t have to pour money into an educational track that ultimately leads to a dead end.
College is expensive enough, and the last thing anyone really needs is a student like my college roommate, who wanted to switch majors every few years because he wasn’t ready to grow up. I don’t foresee this as a problem for Rachel. By participating in the internship program, I believe she will develop a better understanding of what she wants in her career, along with an appreciation of what it will take to get there. With that said, it makes you wonder why they don’t make ALL students participate in an internship?