Published Articles

Boston Globe Interview about Summer Internships for High School Students

                       Pricey summer programs raise fairness questions

 College officials say no, but critics wonder whether specialized experiences give some wealthy     students a leg up       By Lisa Kocian Globe Staff 

                                             “Explore.” “Sail.” “Volunteer.” “Dream.”

 

These were just a few of the enticing verbs that called to Newton South High School students during a recent expo of summer programs. For a fee, students can travel to such places as Ireland, Nepal, or Senegal. And they can immerse themselves in a foreign language, dive into community service, or explore their adventurous side by surfing or rock climbing.

Such programs have multiplied in recent years, giving students who can afford them amazing new opportunities – and perhaps additional pressures during what could be a season for lazy days at the beach and minimum-wage jobs.

But, as the college-admissions process becomes ever more competitive, another question about such programs emerges. Alongside high-priced application coaches and test-prep services, does a summer experience that costs anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 represent yet another way that wealthier students can gain an edge over their lower-income peers?

“If colleges consider the sorts of summer experiences that only some people can afford to pay for, then they are effectively privileging the already privileged,” said Richard Kahlenberg, senior fellow with the Century Foundation, a nonprofit research institution headquartered in New York City.

Kahlenberg authored a 2004 study that found at the 146 most selective colleges, 3 percent of students came from the poorest quarter of the population, while 74 percent came from the richest quarter. He said it’s not that admissions officers are biased against low-income students, but that they are not really giving a leg up to students who work full time over the summer to help their family.

College admissions officers say they certainly have to weigh an applicant’s internships or farflung adventures. But a student can have an extraordinary experience in variety of ways, not all of which cost money, they note.

Bill Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard University, said high-priced internships can be “wonderful experiences,” but “in and of themselves, they will not give a student an advantage in the admissions process because the playing field is not level. The substantial majority of high school students cannot afford to do these things.

“I think there are many people now who understand there are plenty of activities, for example, working a full-time job in the summer or volunteer activities, that don’t have to be in Tanzania – they can be right down the street.”

During last month’s Teen Summer Program Expo at Newton South, 60 companies were offering summertime experiences, compared with 27 companies three years ago, according to Abby Shapiro, president and owner of CampSource, which organized the annual event. Over that time, the number of countries and community-service programs represented has also jumped dramatically, she said, and many programs offer financial aid. One of the newer trends is companies finding unpaid internships for a fee.

Two summers ago, Newton resident Amanda Korff obtained a month long position through the Internship Connection, a Newton-based company that charges $2,000 to place high school students.

Korff, who went to the Rivers School in Weston and is now a 19-year-old freshman at New York University, knew she wanted to major in communications, so she was placed with NewTV, Newton’s public-access television station.

She said she primarily wanted to see whether she liked broadcasting, but, yes, she said, it also was nice to get a good letter of recommendation for her college applications.

“The internship was really great. I was worried I wasn’t going to get a lot of hands-on experience.” But since the station’s operation is so small, Korff said, “I was actually able to work a lot.”

And that’s the point, according to Dr. Carole Jabbawy, founder and director of the Internship Connection, who has placed high school students in architecture, finance, and medical-research positions. “Nobody’s going to get coffee in my program,” she said. “I want to make sure it’s a real educational experience.”

Also, Jabbawy said, she is sensitive to the fact that not every family can afford such internships, so she adjusts her fee when necessary and gives out one free placement each year to a student who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

Robert Korff, Amanda’s father, said he didn’t feel as if the internship was necessarily for his daughter’s college applications, but was more to help her explore a field in which she was interested. And it was well worth it, he said.

“It’s hard to put a price on something like that when you’re talking about your kids.”

Jeffrey Herscott, an 18-year-old senior at Newton South, said he wasn’t thinking about college applications when he decided to do a language-immersion program in Spain last summer. He said he wanted to do it for himself.

He also was concerned about his contribution to the trip, which cost him and his parents $3,200, so he took a job busing tables at a Bertucci’s restaurant. Working helps build character, he said.

“That’s something I’ve always been keen on,” Herscott said.

Gil Villanueva, dean of admissions at Brandeis University in Waltham, said that travel abroad used to be impressive but is now “commonplace.” His school looks for students who – whether they travel or not – show a desire to contribute to society, he said.

He casts a careful eye on an application if a student has traveled across the globe but is not active in his or her community, Villanueva said.

“While I think that’s exciting in terms of what that person might add to the campus, it might not be nearly as much as the individual who committed hours and hours in working for their local chapter of Habitat for Humanity or worked on their Eagle Scout project to enhance a park.”

Villanueva said he encourages families to take advantage of free information on collegeboard.com and other websites to plan an internship or other experience.

There are groups working to close the gap between the haves and have-nots in college admissions. The American Council on Education created knowhow2go.org to help low-income students prepare for college.

Harvard tells students to follow their hearts and not to see every opportunity as a requirement, according to its admissions dean, Fitzsimmons, who co-wrote a paper titled, “Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation.”

Sometimes the most worthwhile summer experiences are not about exotic locales, but looking inside to find your own values, he said. “One of those experiences might be to catch one’s breath during the summer and recharge the batteries.”

Speaking to New York Parenting about Internships and Volunteering

Tips for Teens Seeking Last-Minute Jobs, Summer Activities

By Myrna Beth Haskell

Your teen is sprawled on the couch with a bag of chips and the TV channel set to MTV. Do you envision yourself being frustrated by your teen’s lack of activity all summer? Relaxation after a stressful and frenzied school year is probably much needed but, after a few days of rest, your teen should think about taking advantage of his free time and expanding his horizons.

Jobs are scarce these days, and many internship opportunities are filled in late winter. However, it’s not too late for your teen to plan a constructive summer.

Gaining experience, knowledge

When teenagers use their free time to expand their knowledge by volunteering, working or taking classes, college admissions officers and future employers take notice.

Carole Jabbawy, Ed.D., founder and director of Internship Connection in Newton, Mass., says, “An internship or volunteer experience is the first step to building a resume. Teens gain career exposure, which will be very helpful in sorting out a college major.”

Teens who plan to seek employment right after high school will also reap benefits from experience including:

* Building a resume

* Exploring interests

* Making “connections” in a specific industry

* Setting oneself apart from the crowd

Last-minute job opportunities

Teens should seek help from their school’s guidance office. Small businesses, hospitals, churches and nursing homes are always looking for extra help and usually welcome teen applicants. For last-minute opportunities, it’s best to canvas your neighborhood and ask about positions in person.

“While June may be too late for some internships, nonprofits are still quite busy in June and July, Jabbasy says. “Late spring is a busy time for fundraising events and extra hands are always welcome.”

Finding a paying job for the summer at this late date might be difficult; however, motivated teens can still find openings. Full-time employees often have summer vacation plans, so part-time positions become available.

“Business owners tell me that they don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with social networking,” Jabbawy explains. “They would love a teen to work on a project promoting their business through Facebook, blogging or Twitter.”

Summer college courses

Summer classes are great for teens who want to improve their academic resume. Jim Sirianni, assistant dean and director of Summer College at Stanford University, explains, “Very often universities will allow prospective students to enroll in summer courses right up until the first day of class. Students should check with multiple institutions in their area to see when summer classes begin, as some start weeks later than others. Large institutions tend to have a summer session office that oversees summer course offerings while the registrar’s office is a good starting point for inquiries at smaller colleges.”

Many colleges offer competitive scholars programs, academic camps or traditional classes that high school students can take in the summer. It’s imperative that students check to see if there is a minimum age, a required placement test, or documents their high school needs to submit before they apply.

Volunteering makes a difference

Volunteers are rarely turned away, especially in a down economy. Plus, teens can feel good about making a difference. “It’s wonderfully satisfying to volunteer for an organization that you care about,” Jabbawy says.

Teens should search for positions that will help guide them toward their long-term goals. For example, aspiring veterinarians could look for a position at an animal shelter. “An internship or volunteer experience begins the process of creating a professional network and can lead to a paid position in the future,” Jabbawy says.

Encourage your teen to ask questions and learn as much as she can while volunteering. Be sure your teen understands that showing up on time and being dependable is important even though she is not getting paid.

Places to look for volunteer opportunities:

* Hospitals and medical clinics

* Homeless shelters

* Libraries

* Animal shelters

* Youth centers/camps

Budding entrepreneurs

It’s never too late to start your own business. Possible entrepreneurial ventures include mowing lawns, painting houses, caring for pets while people are on vacation, fixing neighbors’ computers or cooking for the elderly. Teens can distribute fliers in convenient neighborhoods to get the word out.

Still stumped for ideas? Try these websites: www.dosomething.org and www.volunteermatch.org.

Myrna Beth Haskell is a feature writer and columnist specializing in parenting issues and child and adolescent development. She is the mother of two teenagers.

TIPS AND TALES FROM OTHER PARENTS

“Animal shelters need loving hands and warm laps.” – Melbra King, Shell Beach, Calif.

“Most churches run summer programs for kids. Our church has a vacation Bible school and we’re always looking for teen members to help, even if it’s last minute.” – Beth Ackerman, Staatsburg, N.Y.

Share your ideas on an upcoming topic

Your teen didn’t make the varsity team – alternatives to keep him or her playing?

Interview with Her Campus: Balancing an Internship with a Part-Time Job

Intern by Day, Employee by Night: Is It Possible to Balance an Internship With a Part-Time Job?

After a long application season, you’ve finally landed the perfect internship. You’ll gain valuable experience in your field, meet tons of potential mentors, and walk away with the ideal listing on your resume. Great, right? Not so fast… It’s unpaid. Your summer may look like it’s all nailed down, but it can be difficult or even impossible to support yourself without a steady income. Even if you can find a way to support yourself over the summer, what happens when you get back to school in the fall and realize your bank account is running low? You might want to consider picking up a part-time summer job. A paid summer job ensures you’ll still have money to support, save, and spend, but it can be tough to balance work with an unpaid internship.

Find an Internship You Love

Dr. Carole Jabbawy, founder of Internship Connection, a company that matches high school and college students with internships, emphasizes the importance of finding an internship you love. “You will enjoy your summer if you carefully research the type of place that you think would be interesting. If the work is meaningful and you mesh with the company’s vibe, there’s nothing more exciting than getting a jumpstart on your career,” she says.

Sometimes, taking an unpaid internship offer over a paid internship or job offer can work in your favor. If the opportunity will help you get ahead in your career, it’s in your best interest to make it work, even if that means turning down a less beneficial paid internship or taking on a paid job on nights and weekends to make money on the side.

Michelle King, a recent grad of Emerson College, agrees. Last summer, she interned at Seventeen and worked retail. “Be aware that it’s going to be a struggle to balance both and use that as motivation for finding a company that you’re truly passionate about, not just one that will boost your resume,” she says. “Balancing an internship and a job last summer was difficult at times, but I never once regretted it because I loved Seventeen so much.” A jam-packed summer schedule won’t feel so intimidating if you’re excited about what you’re doing every day.

Work Part-Time

It’s one thing to turn down an internship that won’t teach you much or add anything substantial to your resume; it’s something else entirely to turn down a dream offer because it’s unpaid. Jabbawy says, “If you get an offer for a great internship, try to make it work. Look for babysitting or waitressing jobs with evening and weekend hours.”

Ask around your neighborhood and talk to family friends to find babysitting jobs. Can’t find any families with young kids? Create a profile on Sittercity.com, a free site that helps families find babysitters and vice versa.

If you’re interested in waitressing or bartending, go to each restaurant or bar as soon as you can and inquire about job opportunities with the manager. Depending on their application process, they may ask you to fill out an application or come in for an interview. These positions are competitive, so your best bet is to apply to as many places as possible until you find an opening.

Tutoring is a fantastic way to make money on the side, especially since you can set your own hours.  Do you have an eagle eye for editing papers? Can you still remember how to solve SAT math problems? Turn to Facebook to publicize your services as an academic or SAT tutor. You’re bound to catch the attention of younger friends or siblings’ friends who are in need of a little extra help. You can also contact your high school guidance counselor and ask to be put in touch with students in need of assistance.

If you love to be active, contact your town’s youth sports organizations about coaching a sports team in your spare time. Coaching kids is a rewarding, upbeat job, which means it’ll be easy to keep up your spirits while maintaining a busy schedule.

Note that retail jobs or camp counselor positions tend to have less flexible hours, so those might not be as ideal to balance with an internship.

Nail Down a Schedule You Can Handle

If at all possible, work with both employers to find a schedule that won’t drive you crazy. Whether that means spending mornings at your internship and afternoons at your job, or Mondays through Wednesdays at your internship and Thursdays through Saturdays at your job, or another combination, your best bet for staying sane is to find a schedule you can cope with. For example, if you’re an early bird but plan on waitressing on the side for tips, plan to pick up extra hours on weekends — not late night shifts.

When you’re exhausted and worn out, you won’t be able to perform your best at either job. After all the effort you’re pouring into this summer, you’ll definitely deserve a recommendation letter — but only if you’re able to stay alert, engaged, and on top of your work! Avoid slacking on the job by sticking to a schedule that allows you to get enough rest… and, yes, that might mean taking it easy on Saturday nights from time to time.

Explain the Situation to Your Friends

Between interning and working, there’s only so much room left over for the three S’s: socializing, sleeping and sanity.

Two summers ago, Kali Grant, an alum of Ohio State, worked at a coffee shop in the mornings and interned at the Salvation Army in the afternoons. “It was hard to make time for a social life,” she explains. “I’d often have to be at the coffee shop at around 5:30 a.m., and wouldn’t get home from my internship until around 5:00 p.m., so I was usually too exhausted to do anything with friends in the evening! When you only have three hours between last call and when you have to get up in the morning, it’s a lose-lose situation—you’re either completely exhausted at work the next day or you feel like you’re missing out on the fun.”

Before your schedule gets too booked, squeeze in time to explain to friends what your summer is going to look like. Let them know that you’re not planning on blowing them off, but your schedule is hectic and might not allow for as much free time as you had hoped for. Your friends will understand—and they might even be jealous of your rock star time management skills and career savvy!

Bring Up Vacation Time ASAP

Because you have two employers to report to (and two schedules to juggle), it’s doubly important to bring up any days you’re planning on taking off as soon as possible. The earlier you can clear vacation time, the better — don’t get stuck finding out on July 3rd that one or both of your employers isn’t cool with you taking off July 4th.

Check in With Yourself

It’s one thing to be busy. It’s another thing entirely to be stressed around the clock, cancel on girls’ night for the third time in a row, and feel miserable at the prospect of another day of juggling your two positions. Check in with yourself on a regular basis throughout the summer to evaluate if you’re starting to feel burnt out.

Rather than letting your work (not to mention your mental state!) suffer, speak up. Talk to your supervisor at your internship, job, or both. Can you scale back your hours? Switch shifts with someone else? Take a day off? Work with your supervisor to figure out the best course of action for all involved. If the problem runs deeper, as in a serious conflict with your fellow interns or employees or you’re not happy with the atmosphere, it might be in your best interest to quit. There’s no shame in having piled too much on your plate, and you’ll be much happier if you’re honest with yourself and your boss.

Search for Scholarships and Stipends 

A part-time job isn’t the only way to make money while interning. Some schools offer scholarships or stipends to allow unpaid interns to focus solely on their internship without the added burden of a job. Stop by your school’s career center to see if you’re eligible for any internship-related financial aid.

Ask your internship supervisor or your company’s Human Resources department if there’s any way for interns to receive a stipend. While this opportunity tends to only be available at larger companies with established resources, it’s always worth a shot to ask.

If you’re interning at a magazine, apply for Ed 2010’s Trust Fund, a $1,000 stipend to help cover the costs of living and interning in New York City! The application for summer internships is May 30.

Commit to an Awesome Summer

You might not have a ton of time to hang out by the pool, but your professionally-oriented summer can still totally rock. Pick one goal — whether it’s finally taking that mini-road trip you and your BFFs have been planning for years, or finishing the Hunger Games series — completely unrelated to your job or internship that makes your heart sing. When your busy schedule is stressing you out, take a breather by mapping out your route or reading another chapter. Remember, it’s still summer vacation —  enjoy it!

Looking ahead at a fully scheduled summer can be intimidating, but if you plan ahead and schedule in some fun, it’ll fly by in no time. When you return to school in the fall, you’ll be thankful for all you learned at your internship and the extra cash in your bank account!

21st Century Education: The Importance of STEM Internships

In the book 21st Century Skills- Learning for Life in our Times, author Charles Fadel explores three main categories of skills needed for students to excel in modern times:

  • Learning and Innovation
  • Digital Literacy
  • Life and Career Skills

As early as sophomore year in college, students are expected to choose a college major, but without workplace exposure, how is a student really able to make that determination?

Continue reading “21st Century Education: The Importance of STEM Internships”

Reviewing a College Application in Just 8 Minutes?

It was rather shocking to read recently in the Wall Street Journal, that admissions officers at approximately 30 elite colleges read applications in eight minutes!

Because so many more students are submitting applications, the workload for individual readers has become oppressive. Instead, staffers now divvy up individual applications:

“One person might review transcripts, test scores and counselor recommendations, while the other handles extracurricular activities and essays.
Continue reading “Reviewing a College Application in Just 8 Minutes?”

Guidelines Eased for Unpaid Internships

Could your Business Benefit from an Intern?

The U.S. Labor Department rolled out new guidelines for 2018 that make it easier for companies to hire unpaid interns.

Our highly structured, educational program has always met the strictest guidelines for both paid and unpaid internships. We have matched talented interns to startups and businesses for last fourteen years. Students are pre-screened, receive assistance with resume, interview prep and are supervised during their placements. Interns add value in many areas including research, social networking, marketing and more.

Read about the seven factors determine whether the internship can be unpaid

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