The program began as a SOTA miniterm in the early 2000’s, before SAMi even existed. Michaele Sein-Ryan came onto the scene in 2004 to help the forty or so miniterm students prepare for what used to be an intensive three week internship. The interns spent their school hours for the month of January on-site with their supervisor. While this method provided great experience and real-world application, organization was hectic to say the least. Ms. Sein-Ryan wanted to improve upon this, perhaps by turning the program into something bigger altogether. She came up with the name “Next Move” while looking at a magazine. As the program grew, so did the team of Internship Coaches. There is now a team of six internship coaches that work together to find new sites, coach students, match them with sites, and make sure they are successful. This is the second year that all Tacoma public high schools have had the chance to work with NEXT MOVE. There are a total of 269 participants in the program this year, with over half of the students coming from the comprehensive high schools. All of these students enroll with dreams of doing something great in their field, whether that be now or in the more distant future.
This real world application of knowledge helps students determine early on if a field is the right choice for them and provides early work experience that will stand out to employers. The experiences vary widely from student to student. One intern at a veterinary hospital helped to hold a dog down as its leg was amputated. Within their first week, two students interning at the Tacoma fire department had seen horrific injuries and even death. A girl at a dental office helped a man with severe anxiety and other special needs feel comfortable enough to have his teeth worked on. These situations and jobs can be intense, and it’s helpful for students to gain that understanding before committing to a career path.
Every experience serves some sort of benefit to the intern, and the site supervisor is a valuable resource for more than just guidance in the work itself. They can provide insight about higher education related to the career path: What colleges and programs turn out the most professionals, who are some competitors, what some of the biggest challenges are in the field, etc. Some interns stay in touch with their site supervisor after their work time together is over, and their supervisor becomes a mentor in navigating the business side of their craft. An REI photographer from NEXT MOVE’s early years was such a valuable worker that the company paid for her college. This photographer later married one of her colleagues, and the two just recently celebrated the birth of their first child.