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Figures, Fish Tanks, and Friends: A Third Grade Internship

3rd grade intern, Claire and Assistant Business Manager, Heather pose for a photo with their beloved fish, Severus.

Each year, various departments within NMS provide experiential learning opportunities to third grade students in the form of an internship. Students are presented with a list of open positions around the school, and they select, then interview for, the role that appeals to them the most. With this being my first year in the Business Office, I instantly began brainstorming how I could possibly make filing, spreadsheets, operations, and budgeting remotely interesting to an elementary student. I mean, I love what I do, but you’re also reading a blog post written by someone who copied the dictionary for fun.

Claire applied for the Business Office internship immediately, so we set up a 10-minute interview. She bounced into my office, exactly on time, sat in the chair next to me and gave me a huge smile. I explained what we do in the Business Office and what the internship would entail. When I asked her about which aspects of the role interested her the most, she said, enthusiastically, “I love filing and organizing. I keep my Dad organized all the time!” She was perfect!

Claire focuses on filing paperwork.

My background is in higher education, so I’m always looking for ways to connect our students’ everyday experiences to the desirable hard and soft skills that colleges focus on when making admission decisions (and that are on the wish lists of prospective employers). Internships have gained immeasurable importance over the years; no matter the grade level, hands-on experience matters. It’s an early signifier of your child’s interests, and it’s a way for employers assess the level of curiosity, bravery, and forward-thinking initiative they need from graduates. As educators, our challenge is to use this short period of time and create learning moments, while nurturing our students’ passions. And, to have fun!

The project would be simple: What goes into the planning, care, and maintenance of a fish tank? We reviewed mock invoices, crunched numbers, researched fish species, took space measurements, created an expense forecast, and helped our teachers and friends with tasks along the way. Claire consistently excelled in these learning opportunities, and she earned several achievement badges: Operations & Facilities, Project Planning, Track Expenses & Work with a Budget, Meet an Important Deadline, and Build a Fish Tank. I couldn’t be more proud of everything Claire has achieved, or more thankful for her sunny disposition and unwavering drive to learn new things.

The tangible result of our efforts was our very own fish tank. Claire had the opportunity to apply what she learned; she picked out the species and color of betta fish she liked best, plus a tank and decorations.

Severus Snape the betta fish (Claire’s homage to Harry Potter) now rules over the Business Office, happily moody and very well-fed. He loves the movie Moana, and enjoys naps, while pretending he’s stuck in his plants.

Not surprisingly, his favorite person in the world is Claire.


Learn more about the Third Grade Internship Program:

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