By Isabella Scopetski
As students craft their schedules for the upcoming Fall semester, the internship program remains a popular choice for incoming juniors and seniors at AHS. Students who have previously participated in the internship program reflect positively about the program and the impact it’s had on their education.
How It Works
Many students and are enticed by the program because of the promise of a G block study second semester, however, most do not fully understand the process.
Melanie Konstandakis sheds some light on how the ever-popular internship program operates and what her relationship to the students is. Konstandakis is the program director; she works with the students to help them choose the site that meets their needs, and she works with the sites to understand their needs and goals of the organization. “I also do an orientation to help prepare students to be successful in the host site,” she explains. Konstandakis plays a key role in overseeing the work students do at their sites and works with individuals when challenges arise.
The internship program has been in effect for six years at AHS. “Many other high schools have internship programs,” said Konstandakis, “but there are a few things that make ours unique.” The AHS internship program is unique in that it “allows all students to choose their site,students get course credit, it is in the fall, so students can use it on college applications, and it has a diversity of sites so students of different academic levels can find a site that meets their needs,” said Konstandakis.
“I think the program helps students experience workplace situations to experience life outside of a traditional classroom,” said Konstandakis. It is her philosophy that “not all people are suited to classroom learning.” Konstandakis sees the internship program as an essential learning experience for some students because it introduces them to new ways of expressing their ideas and solving problems outside of the classroom, in a real world setting. Many student interns “have already taken all the classes that apply to their interests or are just ready to try something new and different,” said Konstandakis, which is why she believes the program is successful and popular among eager upperclassmen who are about to enter a new stage in their lives.
Since many student interns go on to higher education after they graduate, Konstandakis commented on how she thought the program geared students well towards college. “My graduates report that it does,” she said. Students learn a lot about communication, confidence, teamwork and pushing themselves to try new things. “In most internship settings, there is a supervisor but [they are] not necessarily by your side constantly, so students have to problem-solve more independently and take what they have learned and apply it on the spot to make things work,” added Konstandakis.
Although the internship program seems to benefit the students well, according to Konstandakis, it also seems to benefit the adults who run the work sites. “The students bring new ideas and often new knowledge,” said Konstandakis, which is helpful to adults who may need new strategies and ways of interacting with their community. The collaboration of students and adults has reportedly aided these sites in reaching a younger demographic through social media and newer technology which students tend to be more adept with than most adults.
Senior Isa Dray interned with Massachusetts state representative Sean Garballey at the state house in Boston during her junior year. Dray ventured into downtown Boston two days each week and worked for two and a half hours in Garablley’s office. Dray’s internship involved taking notes at meetings, hearings, and sessions with Garabally and his team. Dray also researched different bills, specifically the one hundred percent renewable energy bill; the goal was to understand how legislative action happens.
For Dray, the internship program was an overall positive experience. She enjoyed working with her advisors: Garabally’s own advisors. “It ended up being a really good working relation,” Dray recalled, despite the fact that her advisor was new and sometimes struggled to find work for Dray to fill her time with. Through her experience, Dray unexpectedly learned that she is more interested in being on the other side of government where lobbying takes place, rather than being an elected official.
A few drawbacks to the experience for Dray included the hour-and-a-half commute she had to make each way by train to her internship each week. Working in an office was admittedly “boring at times,” said Dray, “when all I was doing was working in the office all day, researching, and taking notes.” For Dray, the job became more exciting when she “got to sit in on hearings for bills and sit in on the committee.”
Reflecting back on her experience, Dray expressed how she might do a few things differently. “I think I would try to come in with some more of my own ideas that I could work with my representative about,” as opposed to only working on issues Garballey was already working on.
Another Student’s Experience
Lulu Eddy interned with Arlington Community Education during her senior year. She worked on various projects during her semester, which included working on social media outreach by launching the Community Ed. Instagram page and posting on the site’s Facebook feed to remind people about upcoming classes. “I also edited their catalogue,” said Eddy, “organized data on spreadsheets, and I organized classroom proposals.” The summer before she began her internship with Community Ed, Eddy interned with ACMi and built a relationship with Konstandakis, which led her to continue a similar internship through the school year. Eddy expressed her appreciation for the program as it was “accommodating to her demanding sports schedule.”
Eddy’s experience is exemplary of how personal and specific internships can be for students at AHS. While Community Ed benefited from Eddy’s experience with social media and technology, Eddy was able to gain from working with adults and learning the demands of a job in marketing or advertising, within her own town.
Eddy enjoyed her experience overall, especially with the people she worked with. “If I had more time, I would have liked to do something a little more hands on in my greater community,” admitted Eddy, “although this worked out because I was also playing sports.” Additionally, Eddy believes that her communication skills improved through her internship. “By the end I felt really comfortable communicating with my boss and the other women I worked with about my needs,” said Eddy. She also took away a greater understanding of event planning, which came into play when she helped organize various Community Ed classes.
Konstandakis and student participants find the internship program an overall success. Site supervisors also learn and benefit from their student interns, which maintains a working relationship between AHS and each site.
“Students can still sign up for the fall by putting internship into their schedule and I will set up a time to meet with them and get them matched!” says Konstandakis.