Educating educators through the STEM Teacher Internship
- Posted on October 5, 2021
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
This year Avanade Ireland had the pleasure of hosting two interns from Dublin City University (DCU) who are studying to become teachers. The STEM Teacher Internship Programme (STInt) is an initiative between DCU and Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT) to provide STEM teachers with industry experience that they can take back to the classroom.
Avanade took on this initiative as a way of investing in the community and building a more balanced future workplace. As Ireland Country Manager, Graham Healy, said in one of his previous blogs – “Our ambition to build a truly diverse workforce is driven by a desire to better reflect society – and the organizations we work with.” Partnering with DCU and CWIT for the STEM Teacher Internship is just one example of the many ways Avanade is progressing towards this goal.
From the perspective of one of the interns, “We have gained skills, knowledge and experience that will not only benefit us, but benefit all of the children that will sit before us over the years to come. It has given me the inspiration to encourage as many young people as possible that have an interest in the field to go in that direction, regardless of gender, age and intellectual abilities.”
This internship is a highly unique opportunity for the soon-to-be teachers, as they may not otherwise have the chance to work in any industry before entering the classroom. With this experience, the interns are better positioned to teach future students about the different technology career paths available and how they could pursue those careers.
This was Avanade Ireland’s first year as a host company, and two interns – Katie and Claire – joined us for 10 weeks.
As coordinators, our role was to develop Avanade’s STInt programme from scratch. We set out to plan activities that would provide a well-rounded experience where the interns could learn about different career paths within STEM, the technology industry, Avanade as a company, and gain hands-on technical and project experience.
After several weeks of planning, we had prepared a jam-packed itinerary. The program included onboarding, shadowing our very own Graham Healy, training and technical bootcamps, project work, Talent Community interviews, project showcases, presentations at Ireland All-Hands calls, and finally, some career development activities.
What We Learned as Coordinators
While we thought we were simply hosting two interns, what we discovered is how much the STEM teachers had to learn about careers in technology. From day one, we realized that our work is a complete mystery to those who are not part of – or studying to become part of – the technology industry, let alone consulting.
From early on, the interns asked questions about terminology that seems so common to all of us – such as Business Analyst, Agile, Analytics, Deployment, etc. This was a revelation because it showed us how much of our day-to-day is filled with jargon that we tend to assume others understand.
And that was just the start. Once we got into weekly talent community interviews, we could see the interns learning so much about various career paths that they hadn’t even heard of. We saw as they came to understand what it means to be a functional consultant, experience designer, CRM solution developer, analytics architect, and many more. This is where they were really gaining the experience to take back to the classroom.
Now, when Claire goes on to teach high school mathematics and chemistry, she can say with confidence to her students “If you go into a career <insert technology career path>, here is what you’d do.” When Katie goes on to teach primary school, she’ll be able to explain to her students “that app you’re using – someone had to design it, and that person works as a UX designer.”
Equipped with the understanding of all these exciting options, Katie and Claire can go on to share that knowledge with future students. With more and more students becoming aware of the possibilities within the STEM industry, the talent pool for Avanade will continue to grow.
The decision to invest in educating the educators has proven to be such a valuable experience for them as they go on to teach the future of STEM, but also for us as we continue to find ways to invest in the community and build up that diverse pool of future hires. We celebrate this success not only for the vast amount of knowledge gained in a first-hand setting by our interns, but also for the experience it provided to us as coordinators, and everyone who was involved in some part of the program.