Each morning as Nsenga Hakizimana got dressed for his summer internship at Akron Children’s Hospital, the North High School student was proud to put on his hospital ID badge. Working in a hospital was a dream come true and a great honor for Nsenga, a native of Uganda.
The teen was one of 8 Viking Interns chosen to participate in an 8-week summer internship program at Akron Children’s, as part of our Academy of Health and Human Services at North High School in Akron. We were the first northeast Ohio organization to partner with Akron Public Schools in the formation of college and career academies that allow high school students to explore various careers, while preparing for life after graduation.
As he gets ready to start his senior year, Nsenga knows his experience working in Akron Children’s Austen Simulation Center for Safety and Reliability will serve him well. A student in the college and career academy’s Biomedical Science pathway, he plans to become an orthopedic surgeon. During the internship, he learned medical terminology and suture techniques, and participated in simulations of a surgery and the delivery of a baby.
Each of the 7 other student interns worked in various hospital departments, based on their pathway and career interests. This included:
These students were the academy’s first group of Viking Summer Interns. They were hired to work 20 hours per week for 8 weeks, gaining valuable experience as they earned money during the summer break.
“Our goal with the summer internship program is to provide students with real-world work experience, while also promoting skills in professional development, leadership and basic research,” said Thomas Jefferson, the hospital’s career academy liaison and coordinator for special projects.
Administrative fellow Xhonela Suli worked with the students every Monday, which was devoted to professional development. One of the highlights for intern Kiah Jenkins was completing Myers-Briggs type testing, which helped the students learn more about themselves as they consider future careers.
Each Tuesday-Thursday, the students worked in their assigned areas, completing tasks ranging from making appointment reminder calls and filing to performing maintenance tests on infusion pumps.
“Fridays were research days, when the students conducted basic research on a health disparity or social determinant of health,” said Thomas. “We also used this time to help get them ready for college, such as exploring available scholarships.”
The internship ended on Aug. 2. At a closing program, the students presented their research projects, which ranged from the history of type 1 diabetes and LGTBQ+ health to suicide and motor vehicle accidents. They also made formal presentations to a group of hospital employees and Akron Public Schools staff regarding their summer experience, including highlights, challenges and the three most important things they learned.
For some, the internship reinforced their career goals, such as Ismita Rai who plans to become a cardiovascular technician and So Ma Ya, who is interested in health care administration. For others, it opened their eyes to other possibilities, such as Nabin Chhetri who once thought about becoming a doctor, but now has an interest in working on medical equipment, or Jyoti Rai, who’s considering becoming a community health worker after her experience in Language Access Services.
Along with learning more about working in a hospital, the students learned soft skills that are important to success such as communication and social skills, as well as being on time, and dressing and behaving professionally.
After seeing the students’ presentation, Bernett Williams, Akron Children’s vice president of External Affairs, was filled with pride.
“You have been great models for our program,” Bernett said to the students. “I’m so proud to see how much you have blossomed. I know you will carry these lessons for a lifetime.”