Think back to your high school years. What sticks out? Probably not the Pythagorean Theorem! For many, some of the most formative moments happened outside of the classroom: in a fast food kitchen as we worked our first jobs, at a debate competition after school, or behind the wheel as our parents taught us the rules of the road.
These experiences stick out because they gave us important self-confidence and direction as we were faced with important decisions about life after high school. The Quest Forward Academy Omaha Internship Program was devised to impart students with plenty of supported opportunities to fearlessly discover and experience those formative moments in life.
Powered by students’ curiosity and zest for learning, the Internship Program was specifically designed to arm students for life with four powerful takeaways.
1. They’ll have the confidence to explore and do.
The projects pursued during the Quest Forward Academy Omaha Internship Program are student-driven, but students are surrounded by a structured support system throughout the process.
The Internship Program is structured into two parts to help students ease into the process:
In grades 9 and 10, students select service learning projects that are important to them.
In grades 11 and 12, students explore their career interests during individualized internships.
This phased structure helps students explore their unique career interests in an encouraging environment. They receive continuous support from a site supervisor and myself.
2. They’ll learn relevant life skills.
At Quest Forward Academy, we believe that the 6 Essential Habits provide the foundation for success in school, career, and life, and that the high school years are a critical window for adapting good habits that will last a lifetime.
Internships give students the perfect opportunity to practice what they are learning in the classroom in the real world. I match students with relevant learning opportunities with companies that are committed to supporting students’ curiosity and learning. During their internships, students work closely with site supervisors that provide them with specific feedback related to how they are applying the habits “on the job.” For Natalia, who completed her Omaha internship at an Equestrian Center, the habit “Manage Yourself” was a recurring theme. Deb, Natalia’s site supervisor, showed Natalia how to hold herself accountable for an efficient system to manage all of the tasks to manage a busy horse barn.
3. They’ll learn their interests matter.
Service learning is all about giving back to the community. During their freshman and sophomore years, Quest Forward Academy students team up with nonprofit agencies to address problems they care about for group service learning projects. This year, our students are helping to raise awareness and support for the Heartland United for Puerto Rico and Team Jack Foundation. It’s inspiring to watch students collaborate and take on new roles within the group that fit their strengths and interests.
Students learn the ins and outs of an industry they’re interested in. Site supervisors assign students tasks that are relevant to their learning and communicate the importance of each task. For example, a student named Ian will have the opportunity to explore his interest in carpentry during an internship at a custom woodworking shop. There he will have the opportunity to learn about the business and use tools, while learning what it means to contribute to the overall organization.
4. They’ll develop a growth mindset.
Feedback and reflection are big components of the internship experience that lead to a growth mindset. As students work to meet others’ expectations at their internship sites, they also develop expectations for themselves to constantly learn and grow along the way—no matter what direction they choose!
Once students have completed their internships, they share their experience through a formal presentation with the Quest Forward Academy community. Students, parents, and the professional community are invited to attend the celebratory student showcase.
During these final presentations, students share their reflections about the experiences, what they’ve learned about themselves, and how they feel the internship has helped prepare them for life beyond the academy walls.
An Experience That They’ll Enjoy
Quest Forward students appreciate the internship experience as an opportunity to explore their interests, try on new hats, build connections in the community, and learn more about themselves.
One student, Keyaira, is a gifted writer who has an interest in health and wellness. She is currently completing her internship as a blogger for FitGirl, Inc. “I’ve been enjoying the fact that my internship gives me a small taste of the health industry because I think health and wellness are very important. I’ve been able to administer my knowledge about how to help people stay healthy and happy as well as learn more ways to help them do so.”
Best of all, she tells everyone that her internship has given her a taste of a career that she is passionate about.
Just the Beginning
The Quest Forward Academy Omaha Internship Program is just one part of the Pathways Program, a program designed to prepare and support Quest Forward Academy students for 10 years during high school, through college, and into their first full-time job.
You can learn more about the Pathways Program here.