summer at iea

Four Things I Learned During My Summer at IEA

by Heather Honig, IEA Intern

This summer, I came home from college hoping to gain experience working for a non-profit organization. While I still have some time before I have to choose a career path, I have always been passionate about giving back to my community. Over the years I have volunteered at tons of different organizations, but this time around I wanted to learn more about what goes on behind-the-scenes of organizations like IEA. I was nervous starting my internship because felt like I didn’t know anything about gifted education. But in the past three months I have learned so much about giftedness and how non-profits work, so I thought I would share a few of the things I am taking away from my time at IEA.

  1. Running a program takes a lot of work

IEA has four main programs, but the one I spent most of my time assisting with was EXPLORE. This program places high school students in externships around the Greater Los Angeles area, working alongside mentors in their field of interest. I worked closely with the program coordinator getting all the materials ready for orientations, life skills workshops, culminations, and more. There are so many moving parts that all need to be in working order so programs like EXPLORE can take place, and I definitely got a taste of that from seeing and helping IEA’s coordinators execute their summer programs.

  1. Giftedness looks different in every child…

Prior to coming to IEA, I didn’t know much about giftedness, but assumed that all it meant was that the child was really smart. I was quickly proven otherwise after spending some time at Academy’s summer session. Every few days I would get to drive over to the McKinley School, where I would help out during Academy’s lunch break. The kids would eat and play, and I would get to see how they interacted with each other. I found this especially interesting as an Education & Child Study major. I saw how the kids at Academy were more than just really smart. They each had their own passions, interests, and quirks that really came through in the short time I spent with them.

  1. …So the way we support gifted kids will vary from child to child

One of my ongoing projects this summer was to update and expand IEA’s Gifted Resource Center. The GRC compiles resources that could be of use to gifted students, including articles, summer programs, scholarships, and more. Spending time researching resources for gifted kids showed me that there is no one way to enrich the life of a gifted child. One student may feel most engaged when participating in a high-level math course, while another may thrive when spending time with other gifted students in a more social setting. I really had no idea how many different options there were for gifted children before I delved into this project.

  1. A simple task goes a long way

Being an intern, no matter where you’re working, usually means having to do lots of grunt work. It was frustrating at times to be doing what felt like simple, monotonous tasks. However, these little tasks all add up and enable IEA to do all the amazing work that they do. I was able to attend EXPLORE’s culmination at SCI-Arc, where I got to meet the students whose files I had been organizing all summer. Meeting the students and seeing their final projects made it all come to life and showed me where my work had been going.

I’m so glad that I had this experience and that I got to contribute to IEA’s programs this summer. I know that wherever I end up next I will bring everything I learned at IEA with me!

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