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An Internship’s Growing Experience

Nate

Applesause Interactive received a notification in May from the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce regarding an internship placement for a high school intern.  The “Unite For Success” student internship program, in partnership with Stearns-Benton Employment Employment & Training council, pairs high school juniors and seniors from districts #742, #47 and Cathedral High School with area businesses.  We saw this as an opportunity since it would give us an extra pair of hands for our mobile app development summer camp and mobile app development work.  When we first met Nathan, he seemed very nervous as we described what he would be doing and did not make the best first impression.  Our first assignment was for Nathan to improve his skills enough to make a better first impression in the future.

Regarding the first day we met, Nathan Muggs, our high school intern stated:

“I started by going to the Minnesota School of Business. I was not very comfortable in a setting like that and didn’t give the very best first impression. Before I left Frank suggested I greet 10 people and shake their hand. I wasn’t very eager to shake hands, but I wanted to do my best on this internship so I started by shaking family members hands. This wasn’t as bad as I expected and I made sure I tried to take this to a level a little more out of my comfort zone. I realized what a good handshake should feel like.”

He continued to work on his handshake by greeting faculty and staff at the Minnesota School of Business. This gave him the opportunity to develop this skill in a supportive environment.  Many faculty and staff commented on his level of improvement over the 2 months that he worked on his internship.  One staff member that greeted him at the front desk commented that he had really started opening up and communicating with her.

During the summer app development camp, 3rd – 9th grade students used a program called MIT app inventor to develop Android apps.  The apps were developed using this program and then loaded onto an Android device for testing.  When Nathan worked on demo apps for this camp it became clear that his strengths indeed were in his IT skills.  He was very proficient with debugging and helped many students work through their code.  Debugging is a difficult skill since it requires finding minor errors in computer programming code that can stop the whole program from working.  It can be as tedious as a missing semicolon.  He also had some great ideas about how to customize apps to make them better.

This was the camp experience from Nathan’s perspective:

“They caught on quickly and had fun. They coded a program in Java that was kind of a pong game. They were given a graphic program called Pixlr which they added to their MIT program.  Every day I tried to help the student trouble shoot if they had problems.”

Through this experience we recognized how much Nathan really needed to grow in the area of interpersonal communication.  Frank and Heidi encouraged Nathan to attend a local Toastmaster club. Toastmasters is an organization that fosters public speaking skills.  When we looked into it Nathan stated, “but I am only 17.”  Fortunately, they accepted him even though he was underage.

Nathan states:

“After the summer camp, Heidi and Frank talked to me about trying to speak up. The object for me I think is to get comfortable making small talk with strangers. I think this will be harder for me but I will keep trying.”

After the excitement and challenge of summer camp was over, Nathan was able to settle in and do things that he was more comfortable with again.  He was able to help us with the app development process.

Nathan expresses his comfort level:

“I worked on developing an Android app that allows the musician to drum along to the songs, it then tells the beats/min and what the targeted tempo should be. It has a metronome built in to give the musician fluency. It has been an interesting work in progress, I have really enjoyed it.”

We have enjoyed seeing Nathan grow over the last couple of months in the area of social interaction both with us and in new social situations.  I know that Nathan will continue working on this.

Nathan’s work on the app will be a helpful start and most apps take 6 months to a year to develop if things go well.  We are also planning 2016 summer app development so look for future blogs and information.