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  • Writer's pictureRachel Lipson

Rethinking the Summer Internship [HGSE]

How to create equitable summer opportunities to help all students bridge the gap between college and career

female graduate in a courtyard

Rachel Lipson and the Project on Workforce ]featured in Harvard Graduate School of Education Usable Knowledge on summer internships:

"High school and college students often use the summer as a chance to gain work experience to prepare for the post-graduation job search, usually in the form of internships. Yet, not all students have the same access to these experiences.

According to Rachel Lipson, project director of Project on the Workforce, a joint project between HGSE, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard Business School, “there’s a lot that’s left unsaid about how you get from that post-graduation starting point and into your desired field. This gap is especially stark if you come from a background where you haven’t had exposure to high-wage job trajectories."

Key Takeaways:

  • College is often seen as a pathway to a good job. But colleges often don’t fully connect those dots for students. The summer internship can be an opportunity to connect college with a career.

  • Social capital and networks matter and influence the kinds of work opportunities students access. To better support populations like first-generation students or students of color and ensure equitable access, school and nonprofit leaders can bolster students’ existing networks with supports like cohort communities, and connect students with mentors who can continue to nurture student career trajectories.

  • Find innovative ways like partnerships with local companies or community colleges to develop and diversify the talent pipeline and create experiences for students to develop skills in a professional context.


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