This is the first in an ongoing series of articles written by members of the Arizona education community.
Lennon Audrain is an academic junior at Arizona State University studying Latin, Ancient Greek, and secondary education. As a rising classical and modern language teacher, he enjoys working in the Spanish department at St. Gregory Catholic School. Five months before he graduated from high school, Lennon graduated from Rio Salado College with an Associate in Arts degree in Elementary Education. He serves as the 2017–2018 National Student President of Educators Rising and is a former State President of Educators Rising Arizona. In his spare time, Lennon loves advocating for education, reading about Roman history and culture.
Apprenticeship: The Ancient Art of the Modern Internship
From Ancient Rome to Ancient Egypt, apprenticeships have been a historic way to help prepare youth and adolescents for their future careers and vocations. Artists, sculptors, rug weavers, and many more were sometimes followed by these apprentices who observed professionals practicing their craft and then engaged with them in hands-on opportunities to explore the profession.
While basket weavers and tapestry makers may not be in as high demand today as they were in the ancient world, there are many modern careers in which students can gain valuable, clinical experiences starting at young ages. Today, the modern apprenticeship, which we now call internships, can take place in just about any career, from automotive technicians to health professionals to rising educators and to business leaders.
These internships and clinical experiences are vital to developing a passion for a profession. The best practical image of this is Career and Technical Education. CTE gives students opportunities to explore a profession they are interested in starting in high school. These opportunities are invaluable and have been proven by studies time and time again to help pipeline students into vital career pathways.
CTE’s impact on the community and on the economy are incomparable—they give students certifications right out of high school that are résumé builders. These certify that a student has passed a rigorous program of study, ensuring they are ready for the workforce, which makes them an immediate asset to the economy upon graduation.
Students can even complement their internship opportunities with Career and Technical Student Organizations, national groups of students who are fired up just as much as they are about their future professions. You may have heard of some of these: Educators Rising (formerly Future Educators Association) for our future teachers, FBLA for our future business leaders, HOSA for future health professionals, FFA for agricultural education and training, DECA for marketing professionals, FCCLA for those who want to strengthen personal, family, and work leadership skills, just to name a few. They give students access to an energized network of peers who are striving towards the same goal: becoming competent and confident in their future careers. These organizations host local, state, and national conferences where students can engage with others in competitive events and breakout sessions centered around developing their skills in their selected profession.
John Keating (portrayed by beloved Robin Williams) in Dead Poet’s Society says we still need artists for music, for poetry, and for beauty, for the things for which we live…but, in his words, “to sustain life,” he says we still need “medicine, law, business, and engineering.”
If we want to foster a successful workforce and economy for tomorrow, we must invest in Career and Technical Education today.