Career and technical education is focused on helping students learn skills that will help them be prepared for the workforce today. Many talk about how technology is the future and everyone will need to learn how to code and master other technology skills. But the reality is, technology is now and students with a coding and computer science foundation will have better opportunities presented to them post-high school.
We’ve talked to many high schools across the nation about their career and technical education pathways. We’ve met some educators that have built internship programs for their students so that they can get hands-on experience in a work environment. We’re so inspired by educators that take the initiative to build these programs, and we’ve heard incredible stories about how their students land IT jobs, start computer science degrees, and other tech-related initiatives after they complete high school.
At Skill Struck, we recognize that we too have a responsibility to help students be better prepared for their future. That’s why we started Skill Struck’s high school internship program.
Skill Struck’s CTE High School Internship Program
Skill Struck’s first cohort of interns started in the fall of 2020. Ann Gomez, Support Manager at Skill Struck, started and oversees the internship program.
“We started this internship program to help students gain valuable experiences and skills that are used in today’s workforce,” Ann said. “We also learn a lot from our interns. They are helping us build a more accessible and engaging computer science platform. We see this program as a win-win experience.”
Interns involved in this program help Skill Struck’s development and learning departments. They test the platforms and curriculum used in K-12 classrooms and make it more accessible for student users. They provide feedback based on their own learning styles and perspectives.
“We try to make our internship program flexible and customized according to the students’ school or district requirements,” Ann said. “For example, some students join us for a semester, while we’ve had others work with us for over a year. Internships are usually 14 weeks (or a semester) in length and vary between 40 - 100 hours.”
Making Sure Students Have the Best Learning Experience
Each student that participates in Skill Struck’s internship program comes with a different computer science and coding experience level. That said, Ann makes sure that each student works on projects that stretch an area that they can further expand.
“We really customize a student’s internship based on their experience level,” Ann said. “For example, if they have zero coding experience, I start them off in HTML. The goal is to have them leave the internship with something they didn’t know before. From a quality assurance perspective, it’s important to get feedback that will reflect the variety of students who will be using Skill Struck courses.”
Many of our student users have very little to no experience with coding. That’s why it’s so important that interns are new or rusty to the coding languages they test so that when they go through it they can experience it as if they were one of our student users.
“This process really helps make our curriculum more accessible for all our learners,” Ann said.
As interns go through our program, they are looking for bugs and areas in our curriculum where we should further expand or better clarify.
Interns have also helped support the Skill Struck team on virtual coding workshops that we host for teachers and students across the nation. When they join these coding workshops, they can help young students and teachers in their coding journey, as well as see the excitement of students learning new skills.
Helping Make Computer Science Education More Equitable
Skill Struck has been very deliberate about which interns they bring on. They look for students with different backgrounds, areas, levels of coding experience, etc.
“Diversity is key in our internship program since these interns are helping us develop a computer science curriculum and platform for all types of learners,” Ann said.
Josh, one of Skill Struck’s beloved interns, has been working with Skill Struck for 1.5 years. He’s non-verbal autistic and has been testing our product since he’s been here. Through this program, he’s learned how to be accountable in a work environment.
“He helps test our product from a different point of view,” Ann said. “We really value Josh and the time and energy he’s put into making Skill Struck more accessible for all types of learners. Because of Josh, more students all over the world can learn how to code.”
Skill Struck CTE Internship Output
At the completion of their internship, interns will have:
- Internship credit with their school
- Learned how to code in a coding language they are new or unfamiliar with
- Learned valuable work-environment skills
- Received recommendation from Skill Struck leadership staff
- Made a difference in the lives of other students
- Helped to make our platform more accessible and equitable
Skill Struck’s CTE Internship Moving Forward
Moving forward, Skill Struck will create opportunities for even more interaction with the Skill Struck full-time and part-time staff. They want to make sure high school interns feel like they are an important part of our team - because they are!
Skill Struck also wants to continue to help interns get an idea of what they want to do with their career and education path. Now that they’ve had work experience and have learned coding skills, there are so many possibilities in tech no matter where they come from or what educational or career path they choose.
“Working with interns is one of my favorite things I do here at Skill Struck,” Ann said. “I love working with these students. They are so fun and eager to learn. They are always willing to jump in. It’s refreshing to work with them and see their potential.”
We’ve had interns from Utah (including rural Utah), Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, and soon Michigan and Massachusetts. We’ll continue to expand our internship offerings and opportunities. If you’d like to learn more about this internship program for high school students, reach out to us here.