By Kate Connally, IEA Summer Programs Intern
Working as an intern for the Institute for Educational Advancement has been a wonderful experience, the highlight of my summer. You might think I’d be an old hand in IEA; after all, I attended the Yunasa summer camp for the past eight years before I aged out, the last two years as a member of the camp’s leadership program. Then I volunteered as a general assistant with Academy. But there was plenty to learn at IEA, and it was great to be able to give back to the program and people that gave so much to me.
Working in an office environment was something new to me as this was my first job, and my first paycheck. I was mainly working with the Academy team, but I also helped with the EXPLORE program and Gifted Resource Center (GRC), which is part of the IEA website. I edited entries, checked that information was correct and tried to sort through the tedious task of straightening out over 900 entries. In addition to working with GRC, I had many other tasks that involved similar skills and had similar requirements. I created templates and inputted surveys into online survey analysis programs. The challenge was to stay focused on tasks which could become tedious or monotonous but needed constant attention to detail. From this, I learned quite possibly the most important lesson of my internship.
That lesson was to develop the ability to find a purpose in everything I did. From getting a student water to the aforementioned important and detailed tasks, everything is part of a larger and important program. Getting student water could help them have a better learning experience. My seemingly tedious work on the Gifted Resource Center not only helps improve people’s experience when using it but took something off the plate of other staff, allowing them to work on other tasks.
This is not to say working at IEA is all tedious paperwork. The most enjoyable component of my work at IEA was the opportunity to work closely with students and teachers in the Academy classes. I learned many skills I am sure I will take not only to my next job but into my future career, while still having an enjoyable time. The kids were fun; the teachers were amazing. I accrued the nickname “tall Kate,” as there was a student named Kate in one of the classes where I assisted. When I think about the kids I met, I can’t help but smile. The experiences I have had over the course of the summer in my internship taught me a lot and will stay with me for years to come.
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