The Ins & Outs of Interning

Seniors work at Community America for summer internship


Ayesha Khan, Editor in Chief

Returning Blue Valley High School students may remember receiving an email in their canvas inboxes Spring of 2022 regarding a paid internship program through the Kauffman Foundation called Pro X. The students who applied, interviewed, and received a position in this program were paired with an employer in the area that appealed to their interests. Among the students that landed this opportunity were seniors Max Rudman and Shivam Patel. 

“The internship was through Pro X and I worked with Community America, which is a credit union,” Patel said. “It lasted five weeks, we had to work 25 hours a week, and got paid $1,250 at the end.”

The overarching objective with the Community America internship was to spread financial literacy within the high school age group. 

“Financial literacy is your basic understanding of finance that you’re going to need as an adult, or even right now,” Patel said. “[It’s] understanding how to budget your money — like how much you should save, how much you should invest, how much you should spend, and understanding how you can set yourself up for success in the real world right now.”

Although Rudman and Patel were both interning for Community America, the company divided its 14 interns into two separate groups based on their interests.

“We had a social media team and we had a team that was focused on financial literacy program,” Rudman said. “Then from there, we just worked in our individual groups and came up with a pitch for each team.”

These teams were specified as the advertising team and the game team. Patel, as a member of the game team, worked to create a product that educated people on financial literacy.

“The game team basically ran a session every Monday where we had a trivia game and people would get prizes, like $10 gift cards, if they got the answer right,” Patel said. “There’s also a website which has the game on it. If you’re making a checking account, there’s a game you can play which will also teach you more about managing your money.”

Rudman, who was on the advertising team, promoted educational content about financial literacy while also developing a pitch to a hypothetical investor about why they should give a grant to his group’s project.

“I started off with assignments where they would say ‘Do these interviews, talk to these people, look at this website, write this summary, etc,” Rudman said. “After that, it very quickly turned — I’d say by week two — [into] doing a lot of work where they would just say go off [and] log what you did. It could literally be me looking at other accounts, like other businesses Tik Tok’s, it could be me making content in my room — 

it could be really anything, just however I can best give them the product.” 

As members of different teams, the two each had their own hybrid schedule. However, every Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., all of the interns working with Pro-X gathered for a main session.

“They presented to the entire Pro X internship program in our weekly meeting, which was really fun by the way — they did a really good job with it,” Rudman said. “They [did] that so they could first of all teach kids the things they needed to know in a fun and engaging way, but also so they could understand what they know and don’t know and how they want to learn.”

Patel, on the other hand, did not share the same enjoyment in these weekly meetings

“My least favorite part was the Monday sessions because they got dragged on for way too long — it didn’t need to be four hours,” Patel said. “They’d bring speakers in and talk about different topics that might be beneficial to us, but they went super in depth on basic things that most people, I felt, had a good understanding of.”

Nevertheless, Rudman has his own aspects of the internship that he found enjoyable. In his case, it was working in a hybrid environment. 

“They pretty much give you an end task and you’re supposed to get there, but there’s so many ways you can attack the problem that it’s almost daunting,” Rudman said. “When you’re in person, you’re all having group conversations and you make progress in a very tangible way. The challenge of being virtual was finding my own way to work and to try and find the solution.”

Despite certain facets of the internship being difficult, they allowed Rudman to grow in new ways.

“When we went into the pitch, I had my ideas and the group had their ideas. There were more of them, so I had to give up what I was doing and go with what they wanted to do, which makes it difficult to stay attached to the project since it’s not your vision and it’s not something you believe in,” Rudman said. “It’s hard to watch that product go forward into the pitch process and get shot down because I always thought my ideas would have done better, but that’s part of it — you have to compromise and accept that you’re not always right, which I’m not, so that was it’s nice opportunity to learn.”

By the end of the internship, they both concurred that the experience as a whole was beneficial.

“I gained a better understanding of being more professional because it was with actual people in the real world,” Patel said. “My favorite part was gaining experience in an area that I’m interested in because I want to go into the business field.”

Although Rudman does not share the same desires for his future, his interning endeavors provided him with insight into what he values in the workplace.

“It’s taught me about what I want in a job. I really like having people to work with and I struggle severely with hybrid work with virtual or asynchronous work. I like making TikToks, I like coming up with ideas and being creative — I like doing all that and they gave me a reason to do it,” Rudman said. “I didn’t see my career being at a credit union before and I don’t see it being that now, but I think the characteristics of the job rather than the job itself, were really great learning experiences.”