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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

A Career Advantage: Combining School and Work

An internship program in Maine helps students prepare for their chosen career.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team

The hundreds of students who participate in Maine Career Advantage have an extra adult in their lives -- an intern supervisor whose role is modeled closely after that of German career mentors called "meisters."

According to director Susan Brown, "The intern supervisor experience is the key to the success of our program." Intern supervisors are not teachers but senior workers at local businesses across the state who help train and supervise students who have chosen to take on the challenge of combining school and work. The supervisors help high school and college students, usually on a one-to-one basis, as they learn to manage a weekly schedule which alternates school with full days at a work site.

The goal for students is to earn a Certificate of Skill Mastery guaranteeing employers that the holder has mastered a complex series of work-related skills identified by a state-assembled panel of industry leaders. The Center for Career Development backs up the guarantee by retraining any certificate holder deemed by an employer to lack core skills.

Students who enroll in a full two-year internship also qualify for admission into one of Maine's seven technical colleges, where their supervised work experience and tuition-free courses give them up to a year's worth of credits. As the coordinating agency for the program, the Center for Career Development does not limit its role to training interns; it also helps train supervisors, develop curriculum, and facilitate communication among the hundreds of participating high schools and employers.

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