Many youth gain their first work experiences through internships. These coveted positions provide entry-level exposure to a particular field, skills-based training, and opportunities to network with professionals. Despite their importance in ensuring future career options, securing an internship is not straightforward and inequity is rampant. Many positions, especially those at non-profits, are unpaid and remain out of reach for youth who lack financial resources, while others are accessible only by those with high social capital who can use connections to identify and secure positions. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and recognize the value of incorporating youths' diverse voices and experiences into the fabric of our organization.
We launched the WCS Internship Initiative in summer 2021 with funding from the New York City Speaker and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. The Internship Initiative connects New York City youth with high-quality work experiences, professional development, and careers at our five wildlife parks by doing the following:
- Standardizing internships through an internal policy and approval process;
- Providing compensation for all positions;
- Developing a standardized operating procedure for recruitment and selection that aligns with DEI best practices;
- Supporting internship supervisors in gaining skills in youth development;
- Cultivating interns and elevating them into paid positions at WCS and beyond.
- How has the Internship Initiative impacted WCS systems?
- How has the Internship Initiative affected the number and diversity of interns?
- How has the Internship Initiative affected interns’ skill development and career trajectories?
We are collecting a variety of data to address the evaluation questions:
- Internship Inventory & Needs Assessment. We met with staff from internship-hosting departments across WCS to identify active internships, collect information about processes for recruitment and support, and identify needs.
- Intern Demographic Census and Exit Survey. We administer an anonymous demographic census to interns to understand their backgrounds and track changes in intern demographics over time. We also administer an anonymous exit survey to understand the impact of the internship, including supervision, knowledge and skill development, professional development experiences, feeling of inclusion at WCS, and career goals.
- Supervisor Exit Survey. We administer a survey to internship supervisors to provide feedback on their internship experience, including processes, support, self-efficacy supporting interns, and interns’ experience.
- Applicant Demographics. We analyze home ZIP code and other demographic data collected through intern applications to track changes over time.
- Tracking Intern Advancement. We developed reports for tracking youth movement into new positions at WCS to understand how internships support young people into part-time and full-time jobs.
- WCS Internship Website
- More to come soon!