The Value of the Nueva Internship Program
During a tour of the VC company Playground Global in Palo Alto, a group of seven interns asked Katie Saylor if she wanted to see their project. Saylor, the new director of Nueva’s internship Program, immediately said yes. They then proceeded to drive her around in a 2015 Kia with only the use of a Playstation remote controller.
The interns had spent much of the summer turning this car, given to them by the CEO of Playground Global, into a fully functioning autonomous vehicle. Saylor had dropped by to experience what the students were getting out of their opportunities.
The internship program connects students to summer opportunities around the Bay Area, with over 55 participating organizations from a variety of professions. Only in its fourth year, the number of opportunities has nearly doubled since the program’s beginning. New internships are offered each summer, which range in length from one week to three months. Saylor is working to increase this number and expand the program.
A tenet of Nueva’s internship program is that students are placed in opportunities that allow for them to collaborate and work with a team, as opposed to just shadowing people within an organization.
““I was just blown away by what everybody was doing.”Katie Saylor
Audrey Chin (12), who was a writer and researcher for a team at CK-12, a online education non-profit, walked away from her internship proud of how much hands-on experience she had gained.
“It allowed me to get experience being in a work environment and collaborating in teams but also taking initiative and leading my own projects,” Chin said.
Saylor holds a clear vision for the program and wants to focus on what she thinks students should be getting out of their experiences. As much as she loves the program for what it is currently, she is also looking forward to making some changes.
Saylor wants to expand the number of students who can get this beneficial experience beyond juniors to include more seniors and sophomores. She hopes to do this by adding to the database as well as connecting with companies.
“I want to make sure that on our end everything is as professional and streamlined as possible, so that it’s easy for [the organizations] to say yes,” she said.
Currently, parents, friends, alumni, and other connections can approach Nueva with any opportunities for internships that they may have. These are then compiled into a database that interested students can look through.
“I want to make sure that on our end everything is as professional and streamlined as possible, so that it’s easy for [the organizations] to say yes.”Katie Saylor
Students then submit an application, including a statement of purpose that reveals their understanding of the organization’s mission and also serves as their proposal for how they can contribute. The final decision is up to the organizations themselves.
“I would talk about why I liked the organization, what I was interested in doing there, what I could contribute, and what my past experiences and skills were,” Chin said, of her statement of purpose.
Shiley Einav (12) was another of the seven interns who worked on the self-driving car at Playground Global.
Both Einav and Chin praised their organizations for the company’s openness and accommodation. CK-12 was flexible around Chin’s “crazy schedule,” and also allowed her to take initiative. One of her favorite moments from her internship was when she had to put together a report to present to her boss without very many guidelines. Einav also commented on this freedom in the workplace. “We didn’t really have that much structure.” Einav said. “We came in around 8:30 to 9, we had breakfast, most of the time they had food there. And we were just kind of working in small teams or on our own. We would frequently take our computer out to the car and test some bit of code and come back and iterate.”
Saylor hopes a good form of advertisement for the program to other grades will be the internship showcase, which takes place Nov. 14. A requirement for students who participate in the program, at least 26 students will present, not including any exhibitions by other students. “I want them to be able to share that with other students and hopefully spark interest that way as well,” Saylor said.
Written by Zulie M.