Saint Ignatius High School's Internship Program (Part 1 of 3)

At CoSN, we’re all about professional development for ed tech leaders. One of our member schools, Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio, provides it in a powerful and unique way: with a student internship program for future leaders! Milena Streen (VP & CIO – Librarian) and Robert Barr (Director of Technology) from SIHS are joining us for a 3-part series on how they set up the program and what they’ve learned from it. 

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of Milena and Rob’s thoughts on the internship program next week!

Part 1: Establishing a College Internship Program

Our official internship program, in collaboration with Cleveland State University, began in 2013. But long before that – as soon as Rob joined the team in 2011 as our Network Engineer – we had been laying the groundwork to give students a unique professional development opportunity in ed tech. We already had a high school student technology workers program, but decided to formalize professional development and move to a program that hired college computer science majors. We decided to move away from high school student helpers because high school students were only available for limited number of hours per week after school and they required much more direct supervision. Switching to hiring college-aged students provided benefits like:

  1. No limits to what they can work on based on security and physical items, as they are adults. 
  2. More reliable and flexible work hours and availability.
  3. Accomplishing complete projects as opposed to strictly performing maintenance work during the school year.
  4. Less supervisory commitment managing the labor. 
  5. Larger knowledge and exposure to technology, more confident in abilities.

The transition from high school to college students also came very organically: one of our student helpers graduated from high school, entered a computer science program in college, and stayed on to work with us. We added a second college student over two years ago, and last year decided to hire specifically for our internship program and reached out to local colleges. To help us manage our new 5-day-a-week coverage, we employed a helpdesk package from Spiceworks to better track hours, work categories, assignments, and follow-up on tickets. We were able to assign specific work to the interns based on abilities and need. Now, we have 48 hours of labor each week spread among the 3 interns, for less than half of what we would pay a full time employee. During the summer months, the interns work 32 hours per week. This arrangement allows us to accomplish many new projects while performing redundant maintenance tasks like reimaging of labs, installation and update of software packages, configuration of new computers, replacing of warranty computers, etc.

Reflections from Kyle Keller, Student Intern:

When I first was asked to intern at St. Ignatius, I was very unaware of all the wonderful things that would unfold.  It has been over 2 years since that first day. I have learned so much in such a little time from my experiences and co-workers. The hands-on training and environment helped me put real life applications into the course work I was learning at Cleveland State University. In all honesty, I feel I have learned so much more from my supervisor Rob than in most of my classes. It truly has been an experience soaking in all the information he has to provide. It is hard to find people that are so genuine while holding an overly impressive amount of knowledge.

This program has taught me many things along the way, not just about technology, but about valuable life skills. Communication, time management, how to adapt to sudden change, and just generally being a better person are all things I have learned here. All these things have helped me make the leap from intern to full time employee. I would not be here today if the program hadn’t helped me along the way, and Milena in particular hadn’t helped me. Overall, this has truly been a growing journey. I am so thankful to have overcome the obstacles that I have had, and to be on staff at Saint Ignatius.