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Getting Business on Board for Exemplary Internships


January 11, 2013


Getting Business on Board for Exemplary Internships

A new National Academy Foundation (NAF) publication examines exemplary work-based learning experiences at its career academies around the country. Key elements include passion on both sides of the employer-business partnership, as well as adherence to the NAF Internship Gold Standards.

According to NAF, the Gold Standards were developed in conjunction with education and workforce development experts and employers and are grounded in the work-based learning experiences found most valuable in MDRC’s longitudinal study of career academies:

  • Internships are part of a continuum of work-based learning.
  • Internships are compensated.
  • Internships drive educational equity.
  • Internships are based on identified youth interests and learning objectives.
  • Internship experiences align with academic learning.
  • Internships produce valuable work that furthers employers’ organizational goals.
  • All participants are prepared for, and reflect upon, internship experiences.
  • Systems are in place to support internship participants throughout the experience.
  • Internships are assessed against identified youth interests and learning objectives.
  • Internships occur in safe and supportive environments.

The report notes that exemplary internship programs can meet these standards and still vary dramatically in structure. For instance, students from the Harmony Magnet Academy of Engineering in California and their peers from other high schools will be working collaboratively—but virtually—on a design project, guided by industry professionals and college student mentors. Other NAF internship programs profiled include the Lancaster High School Academy of Finance in New York, the Skyline High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism in Texas and the Southwest Miami High School Academy of Finance in Florida.

This publication is not the only recent addition to the dialogue on work-based learning. A webinar yesterday hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education focused on the role of business in work-based learning, featuring tips from representatives of NAF, Marriott International and the Bodnar Group on how to build education-employer work-based learning partnerships. For example, Doris Bodnar recommended starting small, inviting business leaders to deliver short presentations to students in the classroom and using that as a stepping stone toward greater involvement.

In response to a question on federal support for work-based learning, Charlie Katz of NAF said he was encouraged by the Obama Administration’s focus on education in general and support for career academies in particular. Katz suggested that monetary support for work-based learning could include Perkins funds as well as tax credits or subsidies to companies that hire interns.  

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