At Havergal, the process of preparing young women to make a difference encompasses so many aspects of education, both inside and outside the classroom. This year’s Grade 10 students had the opportunity to apply their learning to life beyond the school walls, completing micro-internships in workplaces of their own choosing. The initiative was an invaluable first step toward building a support network after graduation.
“The girls were responsible for selecting, applying for and following up on placements, in some cases cold calling several potential employers until they were accepted,” says Garth Nichols, Vice Principal, Student Engagement and Experiential Development. “The power of a phone call, especially in an age of text and email, is undeniable,” says Mr. Nichols.
“All of the girls were really nervous to make that initial phone call,” says Career Studies teacher Tamara Curtis, who designed the program with Mr. Nichols for her GLC20 class. “We had one student who received a ‘yes’ after her 11th call, which allowed us the opportunity to talk a lot as a class about resilience and coping skills, and how things do not always work out the first time.” Spending approximately two to six hours shadowing a mentor, students chose a wide variety of internship placements, from investment companies, research labs and physician’s offices to sports teams, independent bookstores and even a snake sanctuary.
“They are gaining a cultural awareness of the business world that is different from the everyday.”
GARTH NICHOLS, VICE PRINCIPAL, STUDENT ENGAGEMENT AND EXPERIENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
“The micro-internship program encouraged me to get a sense of what a potential work environment is truly like. I was able to think more clearly about what path I would like to take in the future and what work environment I would most likely thrive in,” says Grade 10 student Ellie Fletcher. “I was able to attend a hockey game with the team doctor and got to see what it is like working not only in medicine, but also in the fast-paced world of athletics and high-intensity sports. It really made it clear to me like never before that the area I want to work in is sports medicine. It was also an awesome way to start networking; I stayed in contact with the doctor that I shadowed, and that resulted in a summer volunteer opportunity for me in the field that I love.”
“It offered a rare opportunity to think about what careers they truly want to pursue,” says Ms. Curtis. “Students not only had to research the company, but also figure out the logistics of getting there and follow up their internship with a thank-you card. It is a good template for what they will experience after university.”
“One of the skills they are learning is commanding the language to make the next steps more tangible,” explains Mr. Nichols. “They are gaining a cultural awareness of the business world that is different from the everyday.”
The completion of this year’s micro-internships exercise happened to coincide nicely with this spring’s Career Networking Day. In contrast to career events held at other schools, Havergal holds Career Networking Day every two years, making the event more significant for students. Mentors are invited to engage with the girls in small discussion groups as opposed to large lectures, making the interaction much more personal. Students often keep in touch with their mentors afterward, meeting up for coffee dates and networking lunches.