What is LINK?
LINK is an acronym for Leading Internships for New Knowledge. It is a program unique to Animas High School that provides students with an internship experience that prepares them with real-world experiences in the workplace. It is an amazing opportunity for students to explore possible post-secondary options career-wise. These internships can solidify student's expectations of their potential careers, or possibly dispel them. In either scenario, the lessons learned are invariably valuable and may potentially shape students' lives years down the road.
Anticipation and Preparation
Describe the steps you took to find an internship.
I originally wanted to intern with either a professional sports team (see Broncos, Denver) or with a news source covering sports. About halfway through the process of finding an internship, my parents proposed reaching out to one of my several uncles who teach history to middle-schoolers. I decided to go down this path because it seemed more realistic both in terms of my internship and as a career I might actually be able to pursue. I contacted my Uncle Mark in Tacoma first, because my other uncle lives in Gallup, which is, no offense, Gallup. My uncle learned that such an arrangement would be doable, and the most difficult part from that point was filling out a bunch of paperwork to prove that I was not felon in the state of Washington. (Spoiler: I'm not.)
What challenges did you encounter while looking?
The largest challenge I faced was the paperwork. You know when your mom wants you to do a bunch of chores, but only tells you the next one after you've finished the first and you think you're done? It was kind of like that.
How many people did you contact?
1. See Mark, Uncle.
How many times did you hear "no"?
Zero. My uncle could have said no, but then we would be forced to ostracize him from the family. The principle of FWPA was perfectly fine with the arrangement as well, and wishes to stress that the horse head found in his bed had absolutely nothing to do with his decision.
Explain why you chose this particular opportunity.
As I said above, this was the most realistic option in both the short term and the long term.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I want to find out what the responsibilities of a teacher are, since I'm sure they exceed my expectations. When I learn this, I hope to decide whether I want to pursue teaching as a career in the future.
What do you hope to bring to the business?
I want to assist in teaching, crowd control, or any area in which I may be useful. Translation: whatever they need me to do.
What mark will you leave at your internship?
Before I begin, I'd like to take to take a minute to remark on the phrasing of the question. It seems to be asking me to provide an accurate prognostication of the future. How, under any circumstances, am I supposed to know 3 weeks ahead of time what my impression will be on the business? It's ridiculous.
Anyway, I hope I will be a good example of a responsible student, as well as an efficient and satisfactory worker doing whatever it is that I'm going to be doing. I know I will bring in a positive attitude as well, and I don't plan to let the area dampen my spirits. See what I did there?
For my LINK project, I was assigned to design the final project in my uncle's humanities class. To fully understand, let's back up a bit. Every year, all the seventh graders have a project called Culture Fair. In this project, they are each assigned a country from around the world ranging from the UK to Mauritius*. They then have to research their country thoroughly, and then present separate projects from each core class (with the exception of math) on a poster board. In their science class, they had to present on an important (and hopefully somewhat unique) export of their country. For humanities, I assigned them to research a great person from their country. The outline is in this powerpoint, which I presented to the little whippersnappers in class.
*Yes, that's a real country.
Unfortunately, I was only able to actually be present for their 30 second-1 minute spiels, since Culture Fair doesn't actually take place until June 12. Because of this, I don't have any pictures of the finished projects. However, I do have some from last year's Culture Fair, so I'm going to imbed those instead of the real ones, and those of you who didn't read the text won't be able to tell the difference.
Discuss skills and abilities coming in to LINK that were most useful (with specific example)
I think that my knowledge of History as well as my proficiency in English aided me immensely throughout my internship. It's always nice to know what you're talking about when you're teaching a bunch of seventh graders who don't particularly want to listen. I also am relatively good at public speaking and improvisation, the latter being particularly evident when several of the boys in the class inquired as to my relationship status. (Answer: none of your business.)
Discuss most important skills developed during LINK (with specific example)
I think the most important skill I had to refine was my patience. I don't know what I was expecting, but as it turns out, 32 seventh graders in one room together are not particularly interested in the political dynamics of northern Pakistan. They would much rather converse with their friends, play with their fidget spinners, or scoop out their eyes with rusty spoons. I saw much of the first two during my three weeks. One particularly good example of this type of behavior was a child that in the interest of privacy I will give a pseudonym. Let's call him Vanilla Ice. Young Master Ice was (and presumably still is) interested in nothing but the conception of idiotic comments that were related, however loosely, to the subject at hand. This was an eye-opening experience for me, because for the first time I had experienced what it was like to teach someone like myself. This provoked a change of heart for me, and I decided to forgo my usual classroom antics upon my return. Unfortunately, I inexplicably changed my mind the moment I stepped foot back at ye olde Animas High. It was good while it lasted.
Share how you grew through shortcomings or challenges encountered during LINK.
All humor aside, I don't think I really grew through my experiences. It just seemed like work. I don't think life-changing experiences occur in everyone over LINK, or even the majority. I understand that some people have amazing internships that move their lives in a completely new direction. If that's you, great. But it's not me. Part of the problem could be that my largest challenges I faced were dealing with Master Ice and Microsoft Paint, but I don't think that my limited challenges should be to fault for my lack of change. While we're on the subject, I don't think Animas as a whole has made me grow as a person much either. Most of my personal growth has taken place outside of school. But more on this later.
Argue for your importance within the organization and make a case for the mentor to accept high school interns in the future.
I don't want to give myself too much credit and claim that I was an integral piece of the teaching staff at FWPA, but I do have reason to believe that my presence was extremely helpful in certain situations. For example, I folded and categorized over 130 different world flags for Culture Fair. It wasn't essential to the project, but my labors have expedited and organized the process of flag distribution for Culture Fair. My presence was also extremely useful for crowd control during a science bottle rocket launching, and definitely sped up that process. My uncle was very helpful in preparing me for my lessons. If anyone wants to go into teaching and likes the idea of spending three weeks in the Pacific Northwest, I would definitely refer them to either my uncle or perhaps another teacher, Mr. Beard being a prominent example.
Describe how the internship experience has helped you plan for next steps for college and/or career readiness.
I am still uncertain as to whether I will pursue teaching as a career, but I know that I want to keep the door propped open, and this internship has helped me do just that. I have learned both the joys and the hardships of teaching, and I feel they are fairly balanced. When students excel, it brings you joy, but when they are apathetic, it makes the job a burden, often because it's your fault. You have to be strong mentally to get into this occupation. It is not for someone who is easily discouraged. Having learned all this, I'm going to continue down the road the way I've been going already. I'm going to prop a bunch of doors open, and open one fully later down the road. After all, I'm only 17. I can stop and feel the beat from the tambourine.
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life. Oooh yeah.