The paid, professional internship is a critical component in the NAF Academy experience. Internships provide the workplace context in which classroom-learning is applied. Students’ internship experiences inform future classwork and help determine the direction of students’ educational and professional pursuits. All stakeholders must invest time and resources to ensure that students’ paid internships offer challenges that are appropriate and worthwhile.
These are the components of a paid, professional NAF Academy internship:
- Students apply and interview for a job in their field;
- Students earn a position in which they are paid at least minimum wage to work for a defined time period, often full-time for 6-10 weeks the summer of their junior year of high school;
- Students report directly to their supervisors in the workplace and benefit from periodic supervision and guidance from staff at their Academy; and
- Students and employers hold themselves and one another to a high standard of leadership, professionalism, and accountability.
NAF Academies ensure these expectations are met by working closely with business partners before the internship to define limits and goals.
Paid, professional internships must offer students:
- an extension of their Academy instruction and curriculum, further challenged and developed in a business environment;
- experience honing their soft workplace skills, such as teamwork, critical thinking, decorum, conflict resolution, time management, ingenuity, problem-solving, and a solid understanding of the importance of written and oral communication; and
- entry-level exposure to a career in their chosen field and to experiences and situations they can expect if they pursue a career in that field
This combination of classroom and workplace learning provides a valuable foundation for any career the student pursues.
Academies benefit from the infusion of real-world experience that students bring back to the classroom and the added motivation students feel when professional opportunities become tangible, accessible, and rewarding.
Business partners benefit from the efforts of enthusiastic, prepared, and highly conscientious workers and the chance to train and recruit future employees from among this pool of skilled individuals.
Students benefit from the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, earn income, manage their money, make lasting professional connections, and discover more about their interest and proficiency along a specific career path.