Sean Kelly is the lead product designer at Grovemade, but he also makes time in his busy schedule to lead our student internship program. Below, he talks about why it's worth the extra energy.
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Our internship program grew organically and, like many things at Grovemade, it’s a little different. Our number one difference is that we don't take on college students. All of our internship candidates come from local area high schools. Most companies bring on college age interns in order to get free labor, all without giving much thought to the structure of the internship itself. To truly get the most from having an intern, it’s important that they actually learn from you and you from them.
So why high school age interns? Grovemade cofounder Ken Tomita had this reflection about his school days: "I always worried when I was a teenager about what I was going to do as an adult. I was terrified about ‘working’ 40 hours a week. It only got worse as I actually started to work and had crappy jobs that used 1% of my brain. I drifted in college desperately looking for something.” Many of us here shared Ken's feelings in our teenage years. Too many of us drifted aimlessly while there was a wealth of knowledge out there just out of our reach. Here at Grovemade, we want to bridge that gap connecting young people with professionals and places that will inspire them to pursue something great.
"I always worried when I was a teenager about what I was going to do as an adult."
We structure our internship like a class. We have a syllabus and projects with deadlines. Every morning, our interns work on our production line. Every afternoon, they shadow a different team member in a different area of the business. They finish their day working alongside our design team, learning about the creative process and applying it to their own personal project. By giving them a chance to see every part of our work, from manufacturing to design, we try to open their eyes to the whole picture.
It's not just about their learning though. Through teaching and working alongside each other, we learn things about ourselves that we don’t usually see otherwise. We haven’t had a single person at the end of an internship, intern or Grovemade team member, left uninspired.
It may not work for every business, but those able will see a profound impact. This is a call to action for anyone interested. There’s a whole generation of high school students out there looking for direction, guidance and inspiration. You have the power to change lives and to help show them a path to the future, wherever it may lead. All you need to do is open your doors.