21st Century Education: The Importance of STEM Internships

In the book 21st Century Skills- Learning for Life in our Times, author Charles Fadel explores three main categories of skills needed for students to excel in modern times:


  • Learning and Innovation
  • Digital Literacy
  • Life and Career Skills

As early as sophomore year in college, students are expected to choose a college major, but without workplace exposure, how is a student really able to make that determination?


In the following interview with Cyndi Reitmeyer, the Boston TechMom, Cyndi and I discuss ways that students can gain exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through workplace experience.


The Inside Scoop on STEM High School Internships

Reviewing a College Application in Just 8 Minutes?

It was rather shocking to read recently in the Wall Street Journal, that admissions officers at approximately 30 elite colleges read applications in eight minutes!


Because so many more students are submitting applications, the workload for individual readers has become oppressive. Instead, staffers now divvy up individual applications:

“One person might review transcripts, test scores and counselor recommendations, while the other handles extracurricular activities and essays.

They read through their portions simultaneously, discuss their impressions about a candidate’s qualifications, flag some for admission or rejection, and move on. While their decision isn’t always final, in many cases theirs are the last eyes to look at the application itself.”

                      So, how does one stand out in eight minutes?

Admissions officials and high-school counselors say that students should tell a coherent story across essays, transcript and activities.


                                This is where Internshipconnection.com can really set a student apart.


In our program, we delve into students’ interests, strategize the types of internships that would match those interests and match them to an internship in that field. This is the first step in creating a coherent story. Once on the internship, students respond to a few directed journal questions that serve as the beginning of college essays.

For example, Cornell:

Describe two or three of your current intellectual interests and why they are exciting to you. Why will Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences be the right environment in which to pursue your interests?

Here, you would describe those interests, talk about your related internship and mention a field of study or college major that you would be interested in. Not only are you mentioning that interest, but you have shown that you’ve already pursued that interest, even as a high school student.


So, for our students, 8 minutes can be enough time to make an impression!


Guidelines Eased for Unpaid Internships

                                                                  Could your Business Benefit from an Intern?

The U.S. Labor Department rolled out new guidelines for 2018 that make it easier for companies to hire unpaid interns.

Our highly structured, educational program has always met the strictest guidelines for both paid and unpaid internships. We have matched talented interns to startups and businesses for last fourteen years. Students are pre-screened, receive assistance with resume, interview prep and are supervised during their placements. Interns add value in many areas including research, social networking, marketing and more.

The following seven factors determine whether the internship can be unpaid:


 A Sampling of Past Internships:

Jackie’s Startup Internship on the Boston Waterfront

jackie-at-learnlaunchAs a sophomore at Choate Rosemary Hall, Jackie was interested in startups and technology. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, she had moved to Boston from Silicon Valley and was seeking a meaningful summer internship. We connected Jackie to Cashtivity, whose office was located in an exciting startup accelerator in Boston’s Innovation District. Cashtivity is a technology and data driven company, producing learning products based on challenges to enliven the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of K-12 students.


Jackie’s responsibilities were varied and many:

    • She provided new “math challenges” for the Cashtivity product and provided feedback on existing challenges.
    • She created and implemented a multi-pronged marketing plan and collateral targeting middle and high school students to generate interest and secure user-testers to provide feedback.
    • She managed social media, both tracking activity and providing content on multiple platforms

In her wonderful letter of recommendation, the CEO wrote:

“Jackie is extremely organized, managing multiple tasks simultaneously and she consistently produced high quality work with enthusiasm. Her “can do” attitude was evident in all she did, even willingly taking on extra projects outside of her 3 full days in the office. She possesses a true entrepreneurial attitude. Her great interpersonal skills were evident while collaborating with our college intern, Skyping with team members in Australia, giving Power Point presentations and contributing in meetings and interviews. She was an asset to our organizations and I know any academic or professional organization would be fortunate to have Jackie as part of their team.”


A Programming Internship for a High School Junior

Andrew (arms folded) listening intently at the programming meeting.

Andrew (arms folded) listening intently to the presenter at the programming meeting.

Andrew is from an American family who is currently living in England. They reached out to us in order to establish an internship related to Computer Science/Programming. We Skyped with Andrew to get to know him and understand his interests, helped to establish summer housing for him in a college dormitory, and connected him to Privy, a venture capital backed startup company. Privy’s office is in Downtown Boston in the WeWork building, a short subway ride from Andrew’s dorm.

Because Andrew had a basic familiarity with Java, he came up to speed quickly and was able to take on a programming project. In his letter of recommendation, Privy’s CEO wrote:

We asked Andrew to build a particular software application relating to customers. Through this project, he was able to set up a development environment on his own machine, lean a new programming language(Ruby on Rails), integrate with two external vendor APIs and launch the application. We are now using his open source application on a weekly basis. Andrew is the kind of student I would highly recommend to any organization.

In his journal, Andrew wrote about the best part of his internship:

The best part of my internship was definitely writing the program to track data on our support conversations. I had to integrate my program with two different APIs (Intercom and Google Sheets) which was a big enough challenge on its own. Then I had to write all the logic required to take the data we get from Intercom, re-format it, and place it in a Sheets document in such a way that this program can theoretically run every week for as long as it needs to and still function properly, even with manual changes to the document by Privy employees. I had a wonderful time learning about all of the little intricacies of the Privy code base and how they work together to make an efficient machine. This project was also a great opportunity to get to know the developer team better and to learn how collaboration between a team of programmers works in a business, given that most of my programming projects up to this point have been solo.


High School Engineering Intern to MIT Grad

It’s wonderful to read  news about former interns!

Harry participated in an engineering internship with us as a junior in high school.

Harry’s mentor was the company’s CEO, a graduate of MIT who wrote Harry’s letter of recommendation:

“I have been impressed with Harry’s engaging personality, intelligence and maturity throughout his internship. He quickly grasped the necessary concepts involved in our operation and excelled on every task that he was assigned to. His responsibilities included: attending all manufacturing meetings, learning ISO requirements and the operating procedure for all machines. Once I understood his advanced level of competence, I assigned Harry the task of developing procedural documents for maintaining each piece of equipment. Harry became aware of vendor issues and wrote up a thoughtful report concerning quality control. I found his interest in engineering and quick grasp of manufacturing issues unusual for a high school student.

With the intelligence and drive that Harry brought to our company as a high school intern, I can only imagine what he would have to offer to MIT and his chosen profession.”

In addition, Internship Connection contacted another CEO of a prestigious engineering consulting firm in downtown Boston, who was happy to arrange a visit. Harry spent several hours touring the offices and meeting all types of engineers. He learned about engineering as a profession, the various types of engineering fields and enjoyed lunch and camaraderie with professionals immersed in the field.


The following is a fascinating article Harry wrote  when he was at MIT for Fast Company / Business and Innovation

Why An MIT Student Chose An Obscure Internship Over Silicon Valley



Engineering Internship

Pragmatic Tips for Parents: Internship Connection Interview with Boston Tech Mom

“My son is great in math. He may be interested in engineering but is not sure if he should apply to a liberal arts college or engineering school.”


math student

Getting exposure in high school to a field the student may be interested in gives them the chance to “try on” a career. They will absorb the work culture, understand what the day-to-day experience is like and the types of projects people work on. Often the experience confirms a career interest but sometimes the student realizes that field is not right for them. It’s certainly better to discover this early on. These days too many students lose time and money by changing their college majors mid- course.


Recently, I was interviewed by Cyndi Reitmeyer whose website BostonTechMom is a fantastic resource for parents who want to inspire their children in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). As a parent of a tech-minded high school student, Cindy wanted to learn how students should go about finding  STEM internships and how to set realistic expectations.  I was happy to speak to her and provide advice and examples of students’ experiences and for other parents as well who may be thinking about in-depth ways for high school students to gain career experience in STEM.

Please find the full interview here.


A Rewarding Internship for a High School Senior in the Arts

Art Internship

Emily was a senior at Cushing Academy who loved the arts and working with children. Because she was thinking about becoming an art teacher, she thought that a classroom-based internship in the arts would help her to decide about a college major.


Emily’s courses in drawing, fabric design, metalsmithing and jewelry stood out on her resume as we searched and contacted organizations for the appropriate summer placement. We connected her to a wonderful opportunity where she was paid as an arts counselor in a vibrant program for the creative arts.

Emily Arts Internship [4595]

We when visited during the summer, Emily told us that she became involved not only in art, but drama and dance as well.  She said that the best part of the internship was making personal connections to the children.


Top photo credit: tlgragg

The Internship Connection’s Prestigious Boston STEM Internships

schoolgirl adjusts the robot arm model, girl in a robotics labor

(STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Internships for Global Leadership


“Science is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…”

—      President Barack Obama, March 23, 2015


At Internship Connection, we place high school and college students with interests in these crucial fields in a wide variety of prestigious placement sites often in Boston and Cambridge.


A few examples of our students’ STEM internships:


—     Ben, Newton South- Nanotechnology internship at Nantero


—     Alison, U Maryland- Bio Tech internship at Cellanyx


—     Halsey, St. George’s School- Green Technology Internship at Great Point Energy


—     David, BB&N- Engineering and Robotics Internship at Artaic


—     Eshaan, Newton South- Science internship at Eone Watch for the Blind



We invite you to read about their exciting experiences on the Blog and Student Experiences page of our website.

An Expansive Gap Year Internship at A Boston Startup

Travis was a recent graduate of Phillips Academy Andover who was looking forward to starting Brown University after completing a Gap Year. He was looking for a summer experience related to engineering, computers and investments.


We combined Travis’s interests by placing him at Privy, a startup that has developed a unique email list growth platform for retail marketers. The office is located in the exciting co-working space WeWork that was described in the previous blog. Travis was mentored by both the CEO and the VP of Business Development.


Dan, Travis and Ben

Dan, Travis and Ben


Travis described a highlight of his experience there:


I was invited to sit in on an investors meeting with Ben, Privy’s CEO. I mostly sat back and learned from Ben’s presentation he was giving to the investor. At first, I didn’t have much to say regarding why this man should invest in this growing company. However after being asked a few questions about my own work, I realized that I too, was representing Privy in front of this potential investor, even as an intern. Ben had brought me along so I could learn but I was also part of the company.

This made me feel important and slightly responsible for how this meeting went. As I answered a couple questions, I made sure to put my work and Privy in a positive light to do my part, as little as it may have been, in selling Privy to this investor. I learned that I could contribute in more expansive ways, in addition to just being an intern.

In his letter of recommendation, Dan, the VP of Business Development, highly recommended Travis and described his work as impressive:


Travis’s interests in business and computer science helped him contribute greatly to a small entrepreneurial team and also engage our software engineers in an intellectually curious and helpful manner.

Travis helped write content and customer case studies, which he published on the Privy blog. He researched and generated sales prospect lists for the sales team and sent marketing and partnership emails. In both cases, the company saw actual results from the programs Travis worked on.


When asked what was the most important thing he learned, Travis emphasized a few points: learning how a start-up operates, the many things that need to happen to make a company run effectively and seeing all the different tools and why each one is needed in different ways to grow the company.


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