(CNN) - For many college students, landing a coveted internship is a feat. But making the most of the internship is the real accomplishment.With countless internship stories - both dream scenarios and nightmares - making the news lately, CNN chatted with interns past and present to find out what made their experiences so great.
Let's be real. Free food galore, tantalizing perks and pay were definitely touted, but many students say these benefits are not the keys to a great internship.
"The best internship I ever had was in the district office for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson," says former intern Anam Iqbal. "While the internship was unpaid, the experience was priceless. I met many local political figures ... and many lifelong friends in the office."
So what's the secret? We got the skinny from interns past and present who say it's all in what you make of it. Here are five must-dos for a dynamite internship:
1. Don't get caught up on money
Caitlin Beck, a rising senior at Fordham University, interned with MTV News - for no pay - this past spring. She's working now as a restaurant hostess to save money for the school year. She says writing for the MTV News RapFix blog and coordinating guest segments in the "TRL" studio outweighed the pay issue.
"It never really made me mad because I loved it," she says. "When you're working somewhere like that, it validates you, so you almost can't get mad at them." Beck received some financial assistance, including reimbursement for transportation, from Fordham to make her internship possible.
Other interns also appeal to their schools for help making unpaid internships possible. While interning with Ashoka, a social entrepreneur think tank in Arlington, Virginia, Ayah Abo-Basha received a grant from her school's honors program - and she says it's a situation with which many of her fellow interns can sympathize.
"I'm not spending money left and right," she says. "All the interns bring their lunches."
Other students turned to part-time jobs. Iqbal had a morning job as a bank teller for the duration of her internship, and she coordinated her schedule with the bank and the congresswoman's office to make sure she could manage both commitments.
By Heather Kelly, CNN
(CNN) - Hey, young readers: Instead of another summer uttering the dreaded phrase "I'm bored," how about meeting a NASA astronaut or building a working potato cannon?
Maker Camp, which kicks off its second year on July 8, is different kind of summer camp for kids and teens. Instead of canoes and kickball, it has microcontrollers and robots. There are no bus rides or cabins; camp can take place anywhere there's a computer and an Internet connection.
Check out the new site, CNN.com/parenting!
The camp is a free, six-week online program inspired by the maker movement - the trend toward do-it-yourself culture - and run by Maker Media in collaboration with Google. Maker Media also publishes Make magazine and organizes the Maker Faires.
The virtual camp guides kids through daily DIY projects and connects campers to each other using the Google+ social network. Each week has a different theme, and kids are encouraged to share their creations and ask questions during daily video broadcasts.
The lifeblood of the camp are daily Google+ Hangouts where makers, counselors and other special guests lead young viewers through a project. The day's project and supply list is posted in the morning and the hangouts start at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET). Participants must be at least 13 to have a Google+ profile, but many parents of younger kids use their own log-ins and do the projects together. They can also be viewed on YouTube.
"It is like a camp. You go there, you choose an arts and crafts project or you choose archery and meet other people interested in the same things," said Maker Media founder and CEO Dale Dougherty.
Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Emilie Dayan, writes a weekly SFA blog series called "Sustainable South" about food and the environment, nutrition, food access, food justice, agricultural issues and food politics.
By Southern Foodways Alliance
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about urban agriculture and the solution it provides for sustainable and healthy living. The Jones Valley Teaching Farm (JVTF) in Birmingham, Alabama, however, is much more than an urban farm. Their vision is to educate 10,000 Birmingham children annually.
The project started in 2007 as the Jones Valley Urban Farm, when the organization transformed three and a half acres of vacant downtown property into an agricultural oasis. The mission was to make the downtown Birmingham community a healthier place. Soon, the farm’s educational programs proved to be the most relevant of all the organization’s initiatives. As a result, the leadership shifted the focus of the farm and changed the name.
Today, it is the Jones Valley Teaching Farm, and it is a place where young minds blossom. By connecting young people to their food, and helping them understand where it comes from, the JVTF believes that future generations will be empowered to eat smarter, think healthier, and live better.
By Julia Duin, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Julia Duin teaches journalism at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She worked in newspapers for 25 years, including stints at the Houston Chronicle, the Washington Times, and for the past two years, as a contributing writer for the Washington Post Sunday magazine. Her website is juliaduin.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliaduin.
(CNN) - Remember those late summer days, just before the start of school, when you knew you were free as a bird until Labor Day?
I used to enjoy them, too. And then I moved to West Tennessee.
The Volunteer State is one of 10 states - all in the South except for Utah and Arizona - where a majority of schools begin classes before August 15. I’m willing to bet the school start dates here are the earliest in the country. Nashville public schools will begin their classes next summer on August 1. In Chattanooga, it will be August 8. Memphis will start August 5. Things are a little saner in Knoxville, where schools will begin August 21 this year.
But recently, my local school board in Madison County voted to begin school on August 2.
Yes, August 2. I’m the parent of a first-grader in one of the elementary schools in Jackson, a city of 65,211 an hour east of Memphis. It is best known as the place where legendary railroad engineer Casey Jones grew up. It is a center for cotton, soybeans, a Pringles Potato Chips plant - and early schools.
Before moving here, I lived in Maryland, a state that Education Week recently anointed as having the country’s best schools. We started school around the third week in August and ended in early June. Most of the country cannot comprehend starting school August 2.
I like to spend summers near family in the Pacific Northwest, where summer doesn't even kick in until July and August and September are the best months to be there. All around the country, there are reunions, sporting events, fairs, festivals and zillions of outdoor events in August. All my college friends from Oregon are having our once-every-five-years reunion the second weekend of August. In 2008, I went. This year, I will be stuck in Tennessee.
(CNN) - Three struggling elementary schools in Yonkers, New York, are dramatically reducing the length of summer vacation in an attempt to turn the institutions around.
The schools days will be longer, and summer vacation will last only one month, starting August 1.
Some parents are upset, saying it cuts down on valuable family time, and kids' opportunities to participate in summer sports and activities. A researcher argues that kids aren't robots, and can benefit from a break.
But Bernard Pierorazio, superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools, say the decision is made.
"We have to do something different," he said.
What do you think? Would shorter summers would help your children learn, or improve their schools? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter @CNNschools.
by CNN Student News and CNN Schools of Thought staff
(CNN) - In June 2012, CNN and 21st Century Leaders partnered for the 7th annual Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience program. The week-long event brings 75 Georgia high school students together to learn about the journalism industry and experience life on a college campus.
During the week, students participate in workshops and panel discussions with CNN executives and personnel, examining how news stories are selected and produced, various news platforms, issues of ethics and diversity in the news, and the role that social media and audience interaction play in modern-day journalism.
Throughout the week, student groups develop story ideas into five-minute pitch presentations, which are made to a panel of CNN executives. The presentations are scored on creativity and relevancy to a 16-21 year old audience.
Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here. Need to catch up? Check out all her previous posts here.
I'm starting to get the feeling that all of these posts start the same way, but it's for a good reason: Every day is absolutely amazing in its own way!
Today started early again. Before school, our host took us to see some big vacuum chambers used for testing at Johnson Space Center. There are two chambers in the building: one, that is pretty gigantic, where they will test the James Webb Space Telescope, and another one that’s smaller.
The smaller one is actually human rated, so they’ll test space suits there (with people inside!). The big one takes over 12 hours to reach testing level of vacuum, and the smaller one will take more than eight. They are both quite impressive, we really enjoyed seeing them and learning about them.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here. Need to catch up? Check out her first post: Getting ready to explore space school, and her log of the first two days.
I’ve been a space geek for a pretty long time, so being at space school is like a dream come true. I’ve wanted to learn everything related to space since I was a little girl. Influence from my parents and going to Space Camp, along with a few other factors, got me to where I am now, but I never imagined I’d get to do things like the ones I’ve been doing these days. The most amazing part is that it’s only day two!
Today started early at Johnson Space Center, where we visited their acoustics laboratory. The laboratory is where they test spaceships and their components before they fly to make sure the vibrations from the launch won't damage them. From there we went to the University of Houston, Clear Lake where our classes take place. It was pretty exciting; we knew we were getting our team assignments.FULL STORY
by Montse Cordero, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here. If you missed it, check out her first post: Getting ready to explore space school.
All the students arrived today. I was dropped off at a house where I met a few other students from all over the world. There were people from New Zealand, Wales, Canada, the U.S., and Costa Rica. They all seemed really cool! Eventually, my host family picked my roommate Alex (who is American) and I up.
We drove around Houston for a little bit and took pictures with T-38s and other cool things. We had some great food for dinner and discussed what the school was going to be like.FULL STORY
by Montse Cordero, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica, participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here.
In February, I got an e-mail that I’d been hoping to receive for almost three months. It was from Estrategia Siglo XXI, a Costa Rican nonprofit organization that promotes science and technology, saying I’d earned a scholarship for United Space School in Houston. It made me extremely happy, and it began a long period of waiting for July 22.
In November, I was invited to apply for one of two scholarships to attend United Space School. I’d barely even heard of it, so I went online to find out what it was about, and I fell in love. It's a program that invites teenagers from all over the world to Houston.FULL STORY