Resolve What-Ifs With an Internship
Internship Advisor Lauren Stewart recalls her experiences with internships and explains why they are vitalNov 28, 2022
As a kid, I remember being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and I always had a different answer. A violinist. A chef. A detective. A veterinarian. An author. A librarian. Never the same thing twice. It wasn’t until I got to college and realized I needed to decide on a major that I took the time to sit down and reflect on what I enjoyed. Eventually, I ended up choosing a degree in English & Secondary Education because of my passion for both literary analysis and helping people. I thrived in all my literature courses, devouring everything from Shakespearean tragedies to West African short stories, but when it came to my Education courses, I often time found myself questioning the decision to pursue a degree in Education.
As was required by my degree, I had to complete three separate internships in the remaining three semesters I had left before graduating. My first internship was with a 2nd-grade class for three hours each week during their math period. While I enjoyed sitting and helping students add and subtract, I knew I was not meant to be in an elementary setting. My second internship was with a middle school after-school program and by the end of it, I realized I was not meant for the high-energy, foundational part of teaching middle grades. The closer we got to my final, and biggest, internship, the more anxious I grew, unsure if I was cut out to be a teacher. My previous experiences in the classroom had been eye-opening and helped me realize what I didn’t want to do but what if I got into the secondary ed classroom and found I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher?
I wish I could tell 21-year-old Lauren that everything was going to be okay. Nearly a decade after the fact, I recognize the value of an internship. I know that figuring out what you do and don’t like about a certain profession is the point of an internship; applying everything you’ve learned in your classes in a real-life setting without the high stakes of a job is why we encourage students to complete them. The moment I stepped in front of the class that first week, I knew, without a doubt, I was meant to teach high school English. I would spend the next fourteen weeks slowly taking on three 90-minute classes, planning and creating an engaging curriculum while building positive relationships with nearly a hundred juniors and seniors.
Even though I am no longer in the classroom, I often find myself reflecting on the semester I spent learning and growing with a bunch of teenagers. My internship was invaluable, and I learned a lot of things about being a professional such as how to network and collaborate with my colleagues on projects. My cooperating teacher (Site Supervisor in CU Denver terms) was the mentor I needed when I struggled with managing a classroom full of students and balancing grading and planning and the weekly grade-level meetings. My internship gave me the opportunity to see that teaching wasn’t just about getting up in front of a classroom and presenting information; it was about helping these young minds grow and guiding them toward being able to think critically about the world around them.
Though I may appear to be a little biased since I am an Internship Advisor, I find them to be vital in all they can offer students. They help give them the experience they may need when applying for jobs after graduating. They offer opportunities to network with people who are already experienced in the field. They allow students to figure out what they want to do with their degree without the pressure of the real world. They also offer the bonus of potentially being paid or turning into a full-time offer once a student has graduated. Who wouldn’t want to complete an internship?
If you’re interested in checking out some internship possibilities or learning more about the process, swing by our office at LynxConnect (Tivoli 439, right across from iPie) or reach out via email, Experiential.Learning@ucdenver.edu, to be connected with your Internship Advisor.