December 6, 2016
For most students, the school day consists of English, math, science, social studies, and a few electives. For students taking Intern Mentor however, part of the school day takes place in an office.
Around 40 students are enrolled in the elective, most of whom are in Mrs. Burns’ 6th period. Depending on the day, students can either leave for their internship, or head home after 5th period. To meet the four hour per week requirement, some students go to their internship almost every day, while others only go once a week.
Over the course of the year, students also complete a research project on the topic of their choice in their field. Later in the year, their research culminates in a product for an authentic audience. Past products have included fundraisers, speeches, and papers published in scholarly journals.
“Working with students who are so driven and have already identified a sincere interest in such an early age, it’s impressive,” said Mrs. Burns.
Junior Angela Wei interns for Dr. Lili Barouch at the Johns Hopkins Cardiology Outpatient Center. She shadows Dr. Barouch at appointments and sits in on echocardiograms and pacemaker check-ups.
“Ever since middle school after learning about human anatomy and all the systems in the body, I took interest in the heart and the cardiovascular system.” said Wei. “I just find it so intricate and fascinating how so much is happening in every second to keep us alive and functioning.”
Through the program, students have face to face interactions with professionals in their chosen field, in order to test potential career paths.
“I definitely would be interested in studying cardiology down the line. I’m not sure right now what field of cardiology, whether I want to become a specialist in heart failure, a general cardiologist, a surgeon, etc,” continued Wei.
Although a significant portion of interns choose medicine and science, others pursue an internship in humanities or business.
Junior Michelle Lui’s mentor is Tracy Turner, who heads the Howard Tech Council at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. At the small business incubator, Lui can develop her passion for economics in a professional setting. She assists a variety of companies, including MOS Creative and Vheda Health. Currently, she is researching laws pertaining to reimbursement of remote patient monitoring in different states for Vheda Health.
Much of the benefits of an internship, whether in high school or college, come from networking. Lui recalls a time where she met Allan Kittleman at a meeting.
“As we were talking, he found out that I attend Atholton and he high fived me. Afterwards, he said that if I ever needed assistance with anything, I should contact him directly. It was pretty cool connecting and having a conversation with an official.”
Interns often enjoy interactions with their mentor’s colleagues, coworkers, and others in the workplace. Angela Wei enjoys working with the patients at the clinic.
“The coolest thing that has happened at my internship is one time I met this 90 something year old woman who was previously a runner and held two records for the senior olympics in track. She was extremely vibrant for her age and was complaining about how the day after getting a major surgery, the doctors would not her drive herself to Florida despite her insistence that she felt fine. Overall, I just love interacting with old people, they’re great.”
However, the class does not come without its obstacles. It’s sometimes difficult to orchestrate scheduling when interns also have club meetings and sports after school.
“Being that Dr. Barouch only works Tuesday through Friday and I have practice after school everyday, it is extremely challenging to fit 4 hours in every week.” Wei said.
Lui agrees “Since I can’t drive, I’m dependent on my dad’s work schedule. It’s definitely a struggle sometimes having to work 3 or 4 hours at a time after a long day at school, then coming home to complete my homework.”
Most interns are seniors, although a handful of juniors take the class. During the application process, seniors and those who have taken Independent Research with Mrs. Burns are given priority.
“Students who have a very strong interest in a particular field and want to gain practical experience should definitely consider [taking] intern mentor,” said Mrs. Burns. “I think students often romanticize what they think a certain field might be like. Gaining that real world experience is valuable, particularly in high school, before they have to choose a college major.”
As Common Core’s push for college and career readiness becomes more integrated in curriculum, students and educators alike are putting an increasing emphasis on real world applications. Whether in the operating room or the boardroom, students interested in a certain field can always find a workplace that suits them.