Becoming Internship Ready

Brendon Henson
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October 22, 2021

Horrible Bosses wasn’t just a blockbuster hit movie; it’s been a part of many working professional’s career path. Maybe it was your first job as a pizza delivery person that gave you four orders all twenty miles apart to deliver in thirty minutes or less, or it was working for a tech start-up with unlimited PTO, with a workload that didn’t allow for any time off. The transition into the workforce can be overwhelming for a young adult navigating their way into a career, but it doesn’t have to be. How can we ensure that jobs and internships are a mutually beneficial experience for all?

With this important question in mind, the NAF Internship Assessment was created in 2011, in partnership with WestEd, and with guidance from business professionals, nonprofit leaders, policymakers, researchers, and educators. This valuable tool allows supervisors to evaluate interns on the skills industry leaders have indicated are important for young people to master to be college and career ready. As part of this process, students give feedback to employers about their experience through an evaluation so the companies can better understand the student perspective and use this information as a resource for planning future programs.

High school internships allow students to make the connection between what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world application, while developing essential, transferrable skills – such as communication, collaboration, problem-solving, leadership, and more. These hands-on experiences are steppingstones to successful careers, and it’s imperative to provide students with feedback to ensure they understand expectations and feel prepared to enter a workplace setting.

Employers understand that too many young adults enter the workforce without the experience needed to succeed and that we don’t have enough trained workers for the jobs of the future. NAF’s Internship Assessment provides a guide for internship providers to provide feedback on skill development and incorporate them into their planning process to ensure that students will get a chance to practice and demonstrate mastery of these skills during their internship experience.

The NAF Internship Assessment has been adopted by post-secondary institutions, private corporations, and school districts nationwide.  Our tried-and-true method of determining the success of any internship experience can be easily replicated by following the NAF Internship Assessment rubric. The instrument allows for more consistent assessment of student career readiness by a supervisor and provides a mechanism for feedback on skill development and mastery between supervisor and intern.  

The internship assessment measures the following skills to ensure both parties are left with a positive experience:

  • Collaboration & Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Information Management
  • Initiative & Self Direction
  • Professionalism & Ethics
  • Quantitative Reasoning

“Having my supervisor complete an Internship Assessment helped me understand my weaknesses and my strengths. It helped me identify skills that I already have to be college and career ready and those that I might need to improve on.” – Xiao Shan Jiang, NAF Intern

As a continued effort to ensure students get the most out of their internship experience, in Fall 2021, NAF launched Internship Preparation Modules, in collaboration with Humans Who Play (HWP) and a group of educators and students from across the country. As a foundation for this content, NAF utilized some of the activities found in the Tenacity curriculum, created by DC Public Schools, as a full semester-long course to prepare students for internship success.

These modules prepare students to set goals, plan for a quality internship experience, and engage confidently in their workplace. NAF knows that the better we prepare our future workforce for their first steps into a professional environment, the better the outcomes will be for both students and businesses.

Access the Internship Preparation lessons here.

View Bio

Brendon Henson is the Communications Coordinator at NAF. He’s passionate about providing opportunities for students from under-invested in communities and strives to create socio-economic equality in America. Brendon covers topics including student, partner, and educator experiences within the NAF network to inspire audiences to join and contribute to our mission.

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