STEM Internships

Mahima’s Pre-College Internship at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Mahima at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Many parents ask us how we establish internships, considering it’s especially difficult to do for high school students. It really requires extensive research, visiting work sites and creating relationships, which we’ve been doing over the last 15 years. Pictured this past summer at the iLab is Mahima, a sophomore at a public high school that is ranked #2 in MA.

 

Dr. Jabbawy visiting the iLab

We Create Relationships in the Workplace

During the school year, especially in the fall, we visit with potential mentors and workplaces in order to identify the best career match for our students’ interests. We look for mentors who can assign specific tasks and projects for each student to work on. Many mentors have been interns themselves at some point in their career and are happy to mentor a student with shared interests.

After Dr. Jabbawy attended a startup pitch at the iLab in order to identify potential mentors for summer internships, we met a very personable CEO who was very open to the idea of hosting an intern.

Sean Eldrige, CEO of Gain Life

Sean Eldridge: Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer of Gain Life

With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Sean spent his 15-year career in the health behavior change space at Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Weight Watchers. He co-founded Gain Life that provides solutions in the employer wellness market.

In Mahima’s letter of recommendation, Sean wrote:

“Mahima worked for our Harvard Innovation Labs startup, Gain Life, during the 2019 summer. While reporting to me, Gain Life’s CEO, Mahima led a variety of projects where she:

  • Researched and synthesized state-specific insurance regulations
  • Edited privacy and terms and conditions documents for a new product
  • Sourced and conducted consumer research interviews
  • Found and reported bugs in native and web-based applications
  • Built a research presentation for a large, blue chip, company

My team and I found Mahima to be friendly, diligent, and capable of delivering quality work with little direction. Mahima is mature beyond her years. I’d gladly offer her another position with our company at a later date. I happily recommend Mahima without hesitation.”

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.

 

 

 

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