Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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April 22, 2015

Think Beyond the Traditional Internship Model

By Gretchen Koch


To get high school students ready for the business world, they need access to internships. Most companies target their internships at college students, but to truly get more students invested in a tech career, the industry needs to work with students long before they’ve embarked on a college education.

Internships are a powerful way to provide full immersion in the world of work with responsibility for real, necessary tasks that matter to an employer. They provide the experience that can prepare students to successfully begin a career in their chosen field.

To give that opportunity to more high school students, schools and employers can build upon the 4Ps of internship, as developed by the Creating IT Futures Foundation:
  • Project for the student to work on that's both challenging and valued,
  • Place for the student to work on the project,
  • Personnel who will care about and supervise the intern, and
  • Payment, preferably in monetary value, to the students for the work they do.
Employers and schools can collaborate to innovate the internship model so that it works for both the student and the employer. We’ve developed models for 4 types of internships that employers can implement to create student internships:

  1. Traditional Model: Employers provide all 4Ps of the internship at their workplace.
  2. Share Managed Model: Not all employers can facilitate an internship on-site. The shared managed model allows for part of the internship to be handled virtually in cooperation with the employer's remote offices. In most internships, the project and/or supervision can be done virtually.
  3. Partner Model: Some large corporations can't supervise an intern on location. But they can coordinate with their local channel partners to offer student internships. The sponsor helps to fund the internship, but the daily oversight is managed by the local partner.
  4. Consultant Model: Smaller businesses often are too small to have enough room or workload for an intern, but they can aggregate their projects with other small businesses through a school/district or other organization like a Chamber of Commerce. The school can host and supervise the interns while they work on projects like an outside consultant.
We’re putting those models into practice this summer through our work with Chicago Public Schools’ Early College STEM School students. Look for more news on how that program is developing throughout this summer.

To help you better envision how the 4Ps of internships work, check out our infographic.

If you know of a great internship program within the IT industry, let us know about it as we share best practices for workforce development and STEM/tech education.