Tales from the Trenches

Insights, Observations, and Stories

Blog

OK Parents…STEM Internships are great but even Google says…….

Recently, at 3 Summer Opportunity Fairs for Teens, we were swamped by students and parents inquiring about STEM –science, technology, engineering and math internships. Yes, in our school-to-career program we do connect students to exciting STEM internships, but what happened to students interested in government, journalism, and arts? Just as it always does, it seems like the pendulum has swung, this time away from liberal arts to STEM.

Of course technical skills will be more and more sought after in the workplace but studies by Google and LinkedIn relating to both labor market skills and gaps had surprising results. Parents and Students …Take note!

Soft Skills prized by Google and other Corporations

Google’s Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last!

Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post detailed Google’s research.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/12/20/the-surprising-thing-google-learned-about-its-employees-and-what-it-means-for-todays-students/?utm_term=.56b2612bb54a

She writes that the seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

This spring, Google’s study named, Project Aristotle, further supports the importance of soft skills even in high-tech environments. They analyzed data on their high level technical teams of scientists and specialists, and actually discovered that the company’s most important new ideas come from non-technical employees who possessed a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Chevron and IBM, also rank communication skills in the top three most sought after qualities by job recruiters. They prize both an ability to communicate with one’s workers and an aptitude for conveying the company’s product and mission outside the organization.

Workforce Report: Boston Among Top Cities with Largest Skills Gap

Srividya Kalyanaraman in Boston Inno, referred to LinkedIn’s Workforce Report that identified the top four Largest Skills Gap in major US cities. https://www.americaninno.com/boston/inno-news-boston/workforce-report-boston-among-top-cities-with-largest-skills-gap/

In Boston, NYC and all major cities, Soft Skills are highly in demand. The number one skills gap is oral communication, followed by business management, leadership and digital literacy. Also: people management, development tools, social media, time management and data research.

The Case for Internships Relating to Soft Skills

Soft skills are observed and learned on all types of internships:

  • Communication – verbal, written, active listening, netiquettes, body language
  • Strategy – decision making, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, ability to locate and use information
  • Self-management – professionalism, emotional intelligence, work ethic, time-management, attitude, integrity, resilience, predictability
  • Team work – collaboration, ability to operate effectively in a team environment
  • Leadership – negotiation, compromise, conflict management, managing diversity and inclusion, cultural awareness, negotiation, delegation

The best advice I always give to parents is, “Take your child’s interest and run with it.”

If they enjoy writing, we can connect them to a journalism or tech internship where they can write for the company blog.

If they are interested in education, we’ll connect them to a teaching internship where they will learn how to communicate and present ideas.

If they are interested in art, they can learn how art relates to technology in game design or how graphic design is used in every business.

If their interest is law, they can experience an internship in government where they will see how laws are passed or how tech attorneys help startups.

Conclusion

Parents- Don’t discourage your child from a career they may love. All career interests are valid and their value stands alone. Surprisingly enough, that career interest could help them develop the soft skills that are highly desired in STEM related fields.

 

 

 

Eshaan’s Two Startup Internships Got Him Innovating and Building Businesses

We met Eshaan when he was a sophomore at Newton South High School. Eshaan had many interests including science. We connected him To Hyungsoo Kim, a graduate of MIT Sloan School, who was developing a watch for the blind and was a semifinalist in the MIT 100k competition. Hyungsoo was happy to hear that high school students were interested in entrepreneurship.

A watch for the blind

Eshaan helped with research and general tasks and wrote a script for the company video. He wrote:

“Many times Hyungsoo, or one of his colleagues would give me an assignment and I would have to figure out what they wanted and deliver it to them. In essence, they gave me a lot of freedom, but at the same time I had lots of responsibility because they would be counting on me to meet their expectations. One of the best parts of my internship was meeting interesting individuals who are all extremely talented and genuine. This internship has been one of the most productive and memorable experiences.”

A Second Internship in San Francisco

Eshaan stayed in touch with his mentor and became passionate about startups. He came to us for a second internship the following summer. Because he had relatives he could stay with in the San Francisco area, we established an internship at Chewse, a startup company that provides office administrators a customized, simple way to get lunch catered for their businesses.

Eshaan was involved in Customer Acquisition and Growth

He gained in-depth exposure to the process of building a business. He said:

“I worked directly with the head of customer acquisition, who gave me interesting long-term projects. I tracked new leads, researched start-up companies, determined who to target and how to target through various media channels. I conducted analysis of both competitors and customer feedback. Often times my mentor would give me a project to complete and I would have to find a way to finish it by coming up with and using my own methods.”

By the end of Eshaan’s junior summer of high school, he had already gained exposure to two very different startup companies. He continues to stay in contact with his mentors and we are certain that he will build upon his high school internships throughout college.

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?

In the interview with Cyndi Reitmeyer, the Boston TechMom, Cyndi and I discuss ways that students can gain exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through workplace experience.

A former Internship Connection Intern, now an Associate Producer at CBS News

I was thrilled to catch up with our former student Katharine to learn that she is now an Associate Producer to Bianna Golodryga at CBS News in NYC!

We placed her on her first internship as a student at Phillips Exeter.  Katharine graduated from Middlebury, began at CBS in NY as a News Associate and became the Executive Assistant to the President of CBS News before her current position.

She recently wrote, “Carole, it’s great to hear from you! Thanks for reaching out. I think about that internship so fondly and you were such a help. I hope you’re well!   -Katharine

                                                           Here is Katharine’s Story

Katharine, from Lincoln, MA was a sophomore at Phillips Exeter. We matched Katharine’s interests in broadcast journalism to a wonderful female mentor, the Executive Director of a Cable Television station. Tamarah spoke highly of her intern, “Katharine has been extremely helpful to our station. She has edited news segments that we’ve put on the air, worked on studio shoots, and is producing a 30 minute documentary on the prevalence of eating disorders.”

Katharine spoke about her internship in a community newspaper article,

“I was able to try everything from learning how to use the cameras, to editing to running the teleprompter during a live show. The great thing about working at a small station is you get so much hands-on experience.”

 

How a High School Internship in Government led to a position at the Boston City Council

During her junior at Newton South High School, Michelle excitedly told us about a week long school trip to Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Close up Foundation. She became very enthused about the American political system. After our meeting with Michelle, we matched her to a Senator’s office at the MA State House.

“I see apathy among my generation and realized that I’d like to become involved. Working for the Senator is fascinating. I’m attending hearings and seminars as well as researching issues and legislation. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.”

Her Mentor, legislative aide Cat Anderson wrote: ” Michelle is a self-starter and quickly learned to plow right in. She reported about information gleaned from attending hearings, drafted letters to constituents, and helped with data entry and research. She was a wonderful presence in the office.”

After her undergrad studies Michelle went on to law school. We recently caught up with her on LinkedIn and congratulated her on her appointment as the Director of Legislative Budget Analysis at the Boston City Council. 

 

Michelle wrote,

“Thank you! I had such a great experience with that internship, and it’s been interesting how over the years I’ve continually been pulled back to legislative work – and able to use that internship as experience! Hope all is well!”

Building Your College Application Story With An Internship

When we meet with high school sophomores and juniors, applying to college is often at the forefront of their minds as well as the angst of their parents. While their previous experiences may seem a bit disjointed to them, we are able to help them find the unique “thread of interest” that runs through their high school years.

The idea for us, is to establish an internship that directly relates to their academic interests. On their college applications, students are able to show that they are pursuing their passions and talents, not only within the school day, but also in a much deeper way. This becomes their story on their applications and college interviews.

Setting yourself apart from other students

Taking this idea one step further, the following is an example of one student’s college essay about nanotechnology. Not only does he write about his interest in this particular field of science, he is able to talk about the in-depth experience he had through the internship we established for him in high school.

Ben followed our suggestions about “Telling his Story” in a creative way.

As a side note, he was accepted to both Cornell and Columbia for engineering. Today, years later, he is the founder of a company related to technology.

Many Colleges require a personal essay plus an Academic Interest Essay. The following is Ben’s Cornell essay relating to his internship:

-Describe your intellectual interests, their evolution, and what makes them exciting to you.

A Path to Discovery

After slipping into a white coat, I insert my hands into tight latex gloves, carefully covering my hair with a cap made of thin, crinkly paper. I slide open the heavy rubber curtains, stepping into the clean room, enveloped by dust-collecting Styrofoam and silence. Facing me are two computers and a state of the art, half million-dollar Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), powerful enough to see anything a few billionths of a meter in size. For the next six hours, I will work alone in this room, etching off misaligned carbon nanotubes through wafer-scale electron beam lithography using SEM to define high-resolution features on test chips.

Why am I doing this on a beautiful summer day? Imagine computers that boot up instantaneously, cell phones with enough memory to run full-motion video and music clips for days. Or picture a trillion bits of data stored on a chip the size of a postage stamp. These are some of the potentially radical implications of technology being developed at Nantero, the place of my summer internship. I hope in this generation to contribute to the development of these exciting new discoveries in the interrelated fields of engineering, nanoscience and biology.

-Consider the academic programs in the school/college you indicated on page one. How will you utilize them to further explore your intended major or field of interest (or general academic interests if you’re undecided)?

Cornell’s reputation for interdisciplinary research and advanced approaches in nanotechnology are very exciting to me. The Duffield Hall facility and collaborative partnerships within programs is exactly the type of academic setting that is so appealing to me. The Center for Nanoscale systems and ongoing research in carbon-based nanoelectronics and silicon nanoelectronics is are of particular interest and relate to my separate summer internships working with printed circuit boards as well as carbon nanotubes. Also, the opportunity for undergraduate research at Cornell is very important to me.

I am seeking a broad-based and well-rounded education and Cornell’s strengths in Liberal Arts combined with excellence in science and engineering would provide the perfect match for my academic interests.

7 Summer Internships for High School Students in Boston

1. David Zhao from Acton Boxborough High
Tell me about your experiences.
The workplace feels more like the set of “The Social Network” than an actual workplace; FanPier’s harbor location and the informal work environment are truly invigorating and inspiring. The work was involving, but all I needed to recuperate was the view out the 14th floor-windows, where I could see all of Boston sprawling beyond the harbor. In terms of the internship, my mentor Jason started me off with a research project for potential business partners (preferably start-ups) and I compiled an Excel spreadsheet with data for each partner. That project took the entire day, though Jason took me out to lunch with a fellow MIT-Sloan peer. We discussed my college plans, the application process, and potential majors.
Jason truly embraces the role of mentorship–he’s been recommending books, checking in constantly, and teaching me various business essentials (e.g. LinkedIn, database-use, etc.) Jason’s also been asking me for ideas. All in all, the first-day experience was really eye-opening and exciting. I really think that I’ll enjoy this internship and learn a great deal about business, particularly if I want to pursue entrepreneurial business myself.
2. Daniel Alpert from Needham High.
What has been the best part of your internship?
I am learning about business, especially how to run a start-up company. Also, there is a ping pong table there.
Describe a situation in which you took a risk by putting yourself in a new position, such as meeting new people, asking questions, making suggestions.
I’m the only high school kid with a lot of college students. I didn’t know anyone and they all knew each other so I had to put myself out there to make friends. Over time, I felt less intimidated and now I go out to lunch with them.
3. Ally Reiner Wellesley, MA.  Lehigh University College of Business and Economics.
It’s been going great at the fashion company. I have a lot of responsibility and have been learning a lot. I’ve been able to help out with a lot of the marketing ideas and events in addition to some PR responsibilities.  
4. From the Mentor of Max Lasser from the Dexter School in Brookline, MA.
Max is doing great! He attended the EACC meeting last week where he got to see how companies are awarded state tax incentives based on their job creation commitments. The meeting was open to the public; he saw various company executives, local, and state politicians. It was a good experience for him. He is very well mannered and always eager to help. We are glad to have him for the summer. Aiden
5. Emma Witherington from Deerfield Academy.
I’m really enjoying myself at the non-profit. Janel, Blake, and Kay have all been welcoming and helpful guides. That said, they still treat me as a mature adult and expect me to be able to handle important projects.  Because it is just these three women who work in the office, I have great opportunities to partake in hands-on work relevant to the organization. I am taken seriously, and feel I like I am genuinely helping them during their busiest season by providing a fresh and thorough hand on time-consuming projects.
List the kinds of things that you’ve been doing at work.
I’ve been three days so far. The first day was largely about understanding the organization, so I went over a binder of materials that Blake had prepared for me. After this introduction to the business, I completed my first task of choosing photos from recent events in Tampa and Dallas and uploading them, now displayed on the company’s Facebook page. Since then, I’ve been given a larger assignment in which I research other organizations (some for charity, others not) and put information like event size, fundraising means, and sponsorship into an organized spreadsheet.
6. Kevin Zhu from Newton South High School.
The internship at the State House has been quite relaxing and interesting. They said that the real fun begins in July, because that is when all the bills and policies really start to take motion into being passed, so next month will be quite hectic in the State House.  What I have been doing for my first week is participating in the Speaker series that they have at the statehouse, as well as creating a e-mail list for my representative when there isn’t a speaker at that time.
7. Griffin Green from The Rivers School, Weston, MA.
List the things you are doing relating to your interest in robotics and engineering: 
1.     I created a pallet of potential stained glass samples for use in their tesserae software
2.     I worked in Solid Works (CAD software) designing 3d models for a potential tool to cut the glass
3.     Started to make a design and cut glass tile by hand (soon to be replaced with a more efficient method)
I have been very excited about my internship. I feel that the work is very important to the company. I have had the opportunity to work extensively with Ted as he helps to guide me in the right direction and with Paul and Blake. Each of them has shown me a different aspect of the company. When I work with Paul, I focus on the design process, which eventually leads to the creation of the product. On the other hand, Blake allows me to explore the business aspects of the company. On top of all of this, the work environment is very relaxed and makes me feel right at home.

Startup Case Study: A Boston Internship for Camila and Claudia from Puerto Rico

 

The Introduction

It was so interesting to Skype with Camila and Claudia Gonzalez and their parents. The family had been referred to the Internship Connection Program for Entrepreneurship by Babson College. The girls are twin sisters, coming from a private school in Guaynabo, P.R., who had been accepted to Babson as January freshman. “J-frosh” is the term that students often use.

Starting college during spring semester is quite common at many universities across the U.S. The reason behind this is that colleges would like to accept many more qualified students, but cannot accommodate them because of insufficient housing. Additional dorm rooms become available when juniors go abroad during their spring semester.

I have often worked with January freshman, establishing Boston internships for them for the fall semester. Not only can they enjoy an internship matched to their intended academic majors, but they are able to get a jump start on their peers, becoming familiar with the city, it’s transportation system, restaurants and cultural highlights.

The process begins: Housing

Once I knew that the girls wanted to live and work together, I starting researching housing for them that would be comfortable and close to transportation.  Additionally, I wanted to find a mentor who would take a true personal interest in the girls. Coming to the U.S. to a new city at age 17, is not something to take lightly. As director of this program, I feel deeply that my role is not only to provide the best educational experience but to be protective of our students as well.

Placing students in our program is much more complicated than many people realize. I must consider their career interests, their safety, their mode of transportation, their schedules, etc. For the girls and their parents, I emailed photos from several types of housing options. They chose an upscale, short-term stay hotel in Copley Square. It would be just a quick subway ride for them to the Boston Waterfront where over 150 start-up companies would likely be the most interesting and exciting internship sites for the girls.

Choosing the best company and mentor

During my research and drawing from our program’s large network of business connections, I focused on the girls’ interest in both entrepreneurship and fashion. In the past, I’ve placed many students at MassChallenge, an annual global accelerator program and startup competition that provides free office space for finalists and organizes training and networking events. It’s a competetion that awards 1 million dollars to finalist companies selected from 1,250 applications world-wide.

One company at the MassChallenge business incubator really stood out to me. Melanie Berger is the founder and CEO of Mariwear, a new and innovative concept in women’s loungewear. She is a dynamic businesswoman who is also a mom. In our conversations, I learned that she had lived abroad and grasped how important her role would be as mentor for Camilla and Claudia. While discussing the kinds of tasks that she would have for them in her fashion start-up, I could see that they would be involved in every level of her business. We were both excited for the girls’ arrival.

The internship proceeds

 

As the fall progressed, Camilla and Claudia sent me journals detailing their experiences and expressed how thrilled they were with their mentor and their fashion internships. As a former professor of education, I know how crucial it is for students to take a step back to reflect upon their experiences. Therefore, the students are asked to send me several journals that I have designed, with questions that are meant to encourage reflection.

 

An excerpt from Camilla’s journal

 

What has been the best part of your internship?

The best part of the internship has been working with Melanie. She has been a great mentor and example because not only has she helped me grow as a future entrepreneur, but also she has helped me understand the importance of fighting for your goals even though there will be a lot of ups and downs.

She has really made us feel part of not only Mariwear, but also the MassChallenge community by introducing us to the other companies that we were interested in, or in some way, contribute to our future. I feel that every moment in MassChallenge has been a positive, since I am constantly meeting new people, making suggestions, asking questions, and learning something new.

A note from the CEO Melanie

It’s been such a pleasure for me to get to know Camilla and Claudia and Melanie, their mentor, feels the same way. She recently wrote:

Hi Carole,

Hope all is well.  I have to say, I am seriously sad that the girls are gone.

It was beyond an amazing experience for all of us.  They were wonderful on so many levels.  I can’t imagine having anyone else who can fill their shoes.

Melanie Berger

Founder

We wish Camilla and Claudia all the best as they start their freshman semester this January at Babson College!

9 Shark Tank Start Up Lessons You Might Learn This Summer

 

Have you ever wondered how the aspiring entrepreneurs on Shark Tank develop business pitches to investors?

Would you like to catch a glimpse of how guys like Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook? 

There are over 450 companies in Kendall Square, Cambridge, over 1,00 startups in the Boston Innovation District on the Boston waterfront and over 900 in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. You too, can get involved in this exciting way of life.

Some of our most fascinating Boston internships for the last 8 years have been at some of these companies. Here are some of the things you might learn:

–         What does it take to come up with a business idea?

–         What goes into an effective pitch?

–         Who funds startup companies?

–         Which are some of the most successful startups in Boston?

–         Where are some of the hundreds of networking events (called meetups by techies) in Boston and Cambridge?

–         What is a co-working space?

–         What are the more well-known business incubators in Boston?

–         What does each day look like at a startup?

–         What are some of the roles individuals play at these companies?

Whether you are a high school or college student, our business mentors will give you a rarified glimpse into this exceptional community of entrepreneurs:

 

Spring Break in Cancun vs. Interviewing for your Summer Internship

A no-brainer you say? Well let’s see college students. Maybe you can do both. It takes quite a bit of planning, but here’s how our current students are making it happen. We started taking calls and emails beginning in November, getting to know all of you from Emory, Vanderbilt, Boston University and even Seoul, South Korea.

You sent us your resumes- some great, some not so great. We started from scratch for some of you and polished them up for others. Next we sent them out to our contacts for summer internships in Boston, New York City, Austin and set up interviews for you in March. It’s amazing to me the far flung places you go for Spring break, but at least for those of you who were nice enough to squeeze in a few days to come back home to visit your parents (or high school buddies), you’ll know that you’ve got a jump start on your internship search.

Don’t forget to pack that suntan lotion!

Internship Connection

© 2019 Internship Connection
website by NATCo.

Get in touch:

  • Email: carole@internshipconnection.com
  • Phone: 617-964-0715

Connect with us!