When I was 17 I wanted to be a social worker. My mom was a pharmacist at the local hospital and set up a very unofficial internship with a social worker at an outpatient clinic. It was extremely useful and rewarding — but most importantly it gave me some valuable professional experience to put on my resume.



According to The Economist,

“Each summer between 20,000 and 40,000 interns work in Washington’s government departments, lobbyists, non-profit groups and firms…

The ‘Big Four’ audit companies — Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCooper (PWC) — will employ more than 30,000 interns this year…

63% of American (college) students do at least one internship before graduating.”

If my mom hadn’t made that connection and my family hadn’t been able to afford my unpaid work, would I have had such an opportunity?
The secondary school where I used to work, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, requires a three week-long internship in order to graduate. We used the school’s well-known reputation in DC to secure the internships (82% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, an indicator of low-income). It was a powerful experience and most often cited among graduates as the best aspect of the school.
In an age where learning by doing is increasing, how do we ensure all students have the opportunity for this valuable intro to professional life?