Whether trying to get into the college of one’s choice or land a well-paying job after college, in today’s tough economy the competition one faces in order to achieve those goals is tough. With a multitude of qualified applications confronting a college admissions advisor or employer, hiring someone willing to work as an intern might be like getting to watch a sneak preview of a great movie for free.Valerie Burke, communications director at Edina Public Schools, (EPS) is familiar with many different internship-based programs that help Edina students gain experience they’ll need later on.“Summer Shades” is a paid program that hires students 16 years and older to teach summer enrichment classes. Learning how community education works, as well as how EPS works, Burke explains that hiring community interns becomes a win-win situation for students and the school. “This program not only fulfills for us a short-term need, but it offers students real world opportunities so that they can put their education into action.”Burke is especially proud of the Counselors in Training (CIT) program, which started in 1999. The first CITs of “Wise Guys” (Edina’s fourth- and fifth-graders) and “SURGE” (Edina’s sixth- through eighth-graders) were graduates of the program who sought more responsibility, as well as ninth-grade students from South View Middle School looking to fill a volunteer requirement. Today the CIT program draws youth from throughout Edina Public Schools, and the community at large. With the students getting high school credit and work experience, and the after-school programs gaining excellent student staffing, the internship program is yet another win-win example of the Edina Public Schools in action.Incoming junior Tristan Carter can attest to the quality of this program. Carter, who has worked at Wise Guys for two years, has had the dual experience of being both a student in the program as well as a CIT. “I like the atmosphere,” explains Carter, “When you enter you immediately feel like you belong and are a piece of the puzzle. Everyone is like a big happy family.”Yet Carter’s passion for working with kids at Wise Guys exceeds the nostalgia of having been a student there. Carter frequently works with special needs children at his job, and someday he wants to enter the teaching field. “I know that choosing to work with kids when I was a teenager will look good on my resume someday.”In addition to the Summer Shades Community Education program and the Counselors in Training program, other Edina internship opportunities include childcare internships, students working with staff in community programming, creative partnerships with the Edina Foundation, and partnerships with the Chamber.In addition to opportunities for high school internships, college and post-graduate internships are also available. Edina is one of the few places that offer communications internships at the government level, explains Jennifer Bennerotte, communications director with the City of Edina, and this attracts even those who already have jobs. “We have people who either still work for the city, or they come from different PR agencies,” says Bennerotte, “People come to our internship program because they want the opportunity to learn firsthand about a career in communications at the government level.”Internships not only help career-seeking graduates or college students gain employment, they also help a person determine if a certain type of career is right for them. “Our interns do everything that the rest of the team does,” explains Bennerotte. “From writing newsletters and press releases, to attending meetings, and of course a little grunt work. By the end of their internship they will have a strong, solid portfolio to show a prospective employer.”Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in choosing an internship is the pay. Most internships pay nothing, while some offer very little remuneration. Whether at the high school, college or post-college level, working hard for little or no pay might seem like a tough pill to swallow. But good things usually do come to those who wait. In the end, “paying our dues” often results in being able to “pay our bills.”
Edina internships offer hands-on learning.