We believe that the internship (Learning Through Interest) program serves as crucial learning for students, allowing them to work with an adult mentor whose career matches or touches on their potential interests and aspirations. Because students typically learn so much, the internship day is considered a school day. LTI experiences help students become “career-ready” though prolonged and repeated experiential learning and production of authentic work. Internships also help students develop beyond improving their own individual mindsets to build community awareness and connection.
Many students come to Gibson Ek with high expectations for a “perfect” internship, but we encourage students to remain open to a variety of experiences that may be more appropriate for their age or skill level. Internships may be directly related to an area of student interest or provide a skill/experience relevant to an area of interest. For example, a student who has aspirations to be a doctor might intern with a dentist or a veterinarian rather than a primary care physician. Any health sciences-related match may promote growth and learning in that field.
Structure & Requirements
Students are expected to spend Tuesdays and Thursdays at an internship throughout their high school career. Most of these internships should lead to real-world internship projects where students realize their professional capacities, interests, and future goals.
Each year, students are expected to be in an internship or vigorously pursuing the next one. Below are the minimum requirements, but the expectation is that all students spend nearly all Tuesdays and Thursdays at an internship, with the exception of freshmen in September, who should be on campus for orientation.
101: 100 Hours plus Three Shadow Days and/or Informational Interviews
201: 200 Hours plus Two Shadow Days and/or Informational Interviews
301: 250 Hours plus Two Shadow Days and/or Informational Interviews
401: 250 Hours plus One Shadow Day and/or Informational Interview
Hours: At the start of the internship, mentor and student agree on arrival and departure times for Tuesdays and Thursdays when school is in session. Most students intern from 5-7 hours a day. Hours are flexible depending on mentor or student needs and other factors, and they do not need to align with school hours.
Dates: Internship commitments can span just a few weeks or even multiple school years, depending on what works for the mentor and student.
While it is helpful when students come to Gibson Ek knowing their interests and skills, plenty of students arrive without clear career goals, and that’s OK. The LTI coordinator will work with students to expose them to career pathways and guide them through career and personality exploration activities, and advisors will work 1:1 with their students to help them consider a variety of internship options. That said, unsure students will do best by simply trying something new. Gibson Ek offers a number of internships with small businesses in Issaquah that are walking distance or a short city bus ride from school. Those can be great places to start, especially for freshmen who need to “get their feet wet” in the working world and practice those professional skills.
The Learning Through Interest Coordinator will work on establishing a relationship with the community to identify internship opportunities, and students play a role in maintaining and developing these relationships while in their internships. Students can search our ImBlaze database for potential experiences, and they can also submit opportunities they discover on their own, whether for themselves or another. By working together as a community, Gibson Ek staff, students, and families can develop a diverse, well-rounded internship database.
At Gibson Ek, students work alongside their advisors (who are the main point of contact for parents) to develop professional communication skills by initiating and maintaining contact with potential, current, and previous internship mentors.Depending on their level of comfort, students may either make contact independently or have their advisor support in the process, but we strongly recommend that students ask their advisor or the LTI to edit the student’s emails before sending. Students should use their Gibson Ek school email account to communicate with mentors. Personal email accounts should be reserved for personal time and nonschool/non-internship related activities.
Shadow day: Many mentors or students request to begin with a shadow day, which allows the mentor and student to meet to determine whether an internship would be a good fit. These shadow days may involve a full day onsite observing the mentor or just a short 1:1 informational interview to learn more about a potential internship. The advisor may or may not attend depending on the needs of all involved. Students should complete a shadow day permission form (similar to a field trip form) in order to attend the shadow day.
Setting up the internship: When the mentor and student have agreed to the internship, the LTI should be informed and will begin the Internship Agreement and background check process. The Internship Agreement must be signed (usually electronically) by the mentor, the advisor, the student and the students parent or guardian. This paperwork must be complete before the student may begin attending the internship. As soon as or soon after the internship begins, the student’s advisor (teacher) should meet with mentor and
student to establish routines and goals and to confirm attendance hours.
Transportation: Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from internship sites, whether that be walking, driving or taking a city bus. Students and their families should be certain they can manage transportation before starting an internship.
Internship Attendance and Expectations
Logging attendance: After the internship is approved, it will become active in ImBlaze, the system (app and online) Gibson Ek uses to track attendance. Each student MUST log in and out every Tuesday and Thursday. This is how our office staff tracks mandatory school attendance. Mentors receive emails to confirm the attendance.
Tardies or absences: Students should ALWAYS be early or on time for their internship. If something unexpected interferes or if a student must be late or absent for any reason, the student must notify their mentor and advisor as soon as possible. Additionally, because internship days are normal school days, the parent or guardian should excuse the absence through the Gibson Ek office just as they would on any school day. BOTH actions should occur every time.
Dress: Students should dress according to the expectations of that workplace. Students should ask the mentor what is appropriate if it’s not obvious. In nearly every case, students would be expected to present themselves as more “covered up” in a workplace than fashion might dictate in casual life. The complaints we receive most often are about students who wear clothing that is unprofessionally revealing for a workplace environment.
Professional etiquette: Interning can be a little scary; students often don’t know what to expect in a workplace or how to act. But that’s OK! The key to success is a willingness to learn -- it’s not about doing everything perfectly from the start. Our mentors sacrifice their time to teach and support students, so we expect students to arrive ready and open to learning, which means maintaining a friendly and helpful attitude, asking questions about things they don’t know, and listening actively to answers and guidance. Students should stay off their phones and make friendly eye contact.
Communication: Students should use only their Gibson Ek email for email communications, and should ensure an adult looks over initial emails or anything else sent to or from the office environment. Students should keep their language professional and positive in written and verbal communications.
Advisors will be visiting students at their internship on a regular basis (usually once or twice a learning cycle), and the LTI coordinator may visit occasionally. Most of these visits will not be planned, thus a surprise. The advisor may spend time observing the student, talking to the student, helping the student with internship project work, and even meeting with the mentor.
Ending the Internship
The mentor and student might mutually agree that the internship work and goals have been met, or the student may wish to try out a different career field, or the mentor or student may believe the fit is not positive for one or both sides.
Whatever the case, A STUDENT SHOULD NEVER SIMPLY STOP SHOWING UP TO AN INTERNSHIP. This is highly unprofessional. Instead, the mentor and student should first discuss the internship ending and set an end date. At this point, both parties -- mentor and student -- should immediately notify the advisor and the LTI coordinator. The student should ensure that any pending work is completed, and mentor and student will likely be asked to provide written feedback about the experience. Students should send thank you notes to the mentor and any other relevant employees.
Note that if a student wishes to try a different career field, the best course of action is to talk to the advisor and pursue other options WHILE continuing with the original internship, rather than quitting and then deciding later what to do next. The advisor can help the student phase out of one and into the next after the second internship has been secured.