I am delighted to welcome pre-service teachers to Accenture Ireland Summer Internship programme for the 6th consecutive year, during which the students who are qualifying as teachers will get a stint in the industry as a part of our interns group. The only difference is that instead of looking for a job in the tech sector, these teachers will be taking their experiences back into their classrooms.
Back in 2016, when I was still feeling quite new in Accenture, I got invited to the wrap up meeting of an innovative pilot where 5 students from Dublin City University who were qualifying to become teachers had just completed a 12-week internship in technology projects. The pilot was conceived as studies had shown that teachers are one of the biggest influencers in young people’s lives. Especially when secondary school students are making their subject choices, they tend to talk to their teachers and that conversation shapes what they choose in terms subjects at third level or careers.
As a technology business, we want a strong talent pipeline of candidates skilled in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) as the skills that these areas cultivate – creativity, curiosity, collaboration, communication – are essential for all our work. However, most parents, teachers and students are not sufficiently aware of what it means to be working in STEM, how you might get there and what people do after they get there. There is often an ingrained belief that these subjects are hard or that they are not for everyone or even more alarmingly that one must choose between being good at art and design or at maths and science.
So, if we can equip a teacher with the knowledge that there are a multitude of creative roles in STEM and that the best performing teams have people with diverse backgrounds and skills collaborating together, the teachers would impart that knowledge to their pupils. What is more, if these teachers get to experience the working life in tech sector themselves, they will be able to talk about it authentically. Recent STEM report from Accenture highlighted that almost 9 in 10 (86 percent) teachers agree that students would be more likely to study STEM subjects if they knew what career or job prospects they might have at the end. If they can hear about it directly from a teacher who has first experience and personally knows people in the profession, it is even more convincing and inspiring.
But that is not all. During the internship, these students perform just as well as any other business or technology intern. They are motivated and enthusiastic with great communication skills and with a little bit of support they quickly get over their own nerves and learn new skills. They become a valuable part of the team delivering work products and resources that continue to be useful long after they have returned to their classrooms.
As the industry liaison for the STEM Teacher Internships (STInt) programme, I talk to companies looking to join or continue with the programme. It never ceases to make me feel proud of the interns, whether at Accenture or elsewhere, and see them transform from the first week when frankly most of them are wondering what they have got themselves into to the final weeks when a good few of them are smashing the presentations and scooping up competition prizes and awards. This summer 26 companies across Ireland, are providing internships to students from DCU and Maynooth universities and I am looking forward to another exciting summer collaborating with all the host companies to make this fantastic programme scale further.
Written by Shalini Tater Hollingum, Product Manager at Accenture, CWiT STInt Lead.
The piece was originally posted in LinkedIn.