NACME Career Center

Summer's Possibilities

July 1, 2015


Many of my best memories take me back to summer vacations at my grandparents' cotton and tobacco farm in rural South Carolina. I spent carefree weeks playing with my many cousins and even helped out by picking tobacco. As a teenager, I continued to enjoy my summer vacations, but worked jobs closer to home, including a stint at Harlem Hospital. It was a great feeling of independence to be able to work and earn a little spending money. And although I worked during my summer vacations, I still took advantage of the typical summer pleasures of being outside, sleeping late, having free time with family and friends, and not worrying about studying for the next test or planning the next paper.

On a related note, the less structured explorations that happen in summer can lead kids on a path to learning adventures. Increasingly, parents, recreation departments, and school districts are recognizing this. There are robotics camps where students can spend entire afternoons tinkering, chess clubs where kids can learn to be more critical thinkers, and computer programming classes where participants write code in a free form environment. A common thread that runs throughout these programs is that youngsters are not graded and engage in these pursuits just for the fun of it.

Several organizations have picked up on this. The New York City Department of Education (DOE) has built on this idea by leveraging many of the city's leading cultural institutions. Kids visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the New York Aquarium, the Queens Zoo, and the Staten Island Zoo for 'immersive experiences' in science. Under the starry skies of southern Arizona, the University of Arizona lets students explore the heavens in Astronomy Camp. And at the University of Washington, a NACME Partner Institution, learning 'blooms' in a summer gardening program that teaches young people about botany.

At NACME, summer has also been the time for our college-age NACME Scholars to intern at NACME Board Companies. Scholars see what life is like for an engineer outside the classroom and get real world experience. Shani Allison, a NACME Scholar and Program Management Analyst, at the Ford Motor Company, a NACME Board Company, has said; "... the two summer internship experiences I got through NACME put me ahead of my peers. By having previous work experience I was able to find success quickly and transition into the workforce smoothly, which allowed me to pay it forward sooner than later." Our other board companies also value our internship program as it is a tool for recruiting excellent candidates. For these reasons and more, we have committed to growing our Summer Internship Program as part of our new Connectivity 2020 Strategic Plan.

Summer is fleeting. Whether you plan on recreation, learning, or a combination of the two, here's to making the most of it!