How Mentoring Works

Mentoring in-person or remotely

About Internships/Mentorships

Gibson Ek High School students learn from working professionals whose careers match the students’ interests. Mentors have the opportunity to teach a student about the job, coach soft skills, and make a lifelong impact on a teen. Students work with a mentor and tackle a related project on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

To volunteer, please fill out this brief form.

Getting Started

Student outreach: After the mentor's information is included in our database, students will search for mentors whose careers match their interest. A student will contact the mentor, likely via email, to request a meeting.

Set-up meeting: The student and their advisor will meet with the mentor to determine whether all three agree that an internship/mentorship might be a good fit. The meeting may also cover project work, daily routines, and learning goals.

Brief paperwork: If all agree, we will send the mentor brief online paperwork, including a background check. When this is all finalized, the mentorship may begin.

Mentoring Time Commitment

Dates: Mentorships typically begin with one trimester (10-12 weeks) and often extend through the school year, though the mentor may end the experience at any time.

In-person hours: At the start, mentor and student agree on arrival and departure times for Tuesdays and Thursdays when school is in session. Full on-site internships are 4-7 hours a day, and schedule does not need to align with school hours.

If the mentor prefers a part-time in-person arrangement, the student may stay just 2-3 hours and work from home the rest of the day.

Remote-only hours: Most virtual mentors meet with the student 1-2 times a week, depending on availability. Duration varies widely, but an average video chat lasts around 30 minutes.

Mentorship Work & Projects

In-person: Mentors set basic expectations for on-site work. It is fine to assign some menial tasks, but it's important that a teen intern not replace a paid employee. The primary goal is for the student to learn, so we encourage plenty of observation of, or engagement in, the business or organization.

Remote: The student works independently from home before or after video chatting with the mentor.

Projects: In either case, a good portion of the student's time should be spent working on the mentorship project. The student’s advisor and student will collaborate with the mentor to determine the project. 

See our Internship Projects page for guidance.

Professionalism & Students

Few high school students have experience with the soft skills that adults develop in the workplace. They may seem awkward, shy, or sometimes even somewhat inappropriate.

Mentors should feel comfortable guiding students by modeling and even directly teaching professional behavior. From face-to-face communication, to email and phone etiquette, to professional grooming and posture — teens benefit greatly from coaching in soft skills.

If any issues arise, the mentor should contact the student's advisor right away. 

Mentee Attendance & Assessment

Attendance reporting: Mentors may receive an email each mentorship day to confirm the student's attendance. We urge mentors to reach out ASAP to the student's advisor if a student is late or absent.

Project assessment: The student's advisor evaluates any project work for credit. The mentor's role is more like a coach or guide.

Exhibition and feedback (optional, but encouraged): Mentors are invited to attend the student’s exhibition, an hour-long presentation of learning each trimester to a panel of teachers, peers and parents. Mentors also will be asked to provide written feedback around exhibition time or when the internship ends.

Mentor teaching piloting skills

A great mentor...

  • Communicates frequently with the student and advisor.
  • Sets high expectations.
  • Meets regularly with the student to discuss goals and progress.
  • Offers constructive feedback to encourage growth.
  • Shares resources and knowledge.
  • Collaborates with the student and advisor on an appropriate project.

FAQs About In-Person Mentoring

Am I the only one who can work with the student?

At the workplace, the mentor is the primary person who oversees the student. You should know where they are and generally what they are working on, but the student should become integrated into your team and be only a minimal investment of your time (similar to managing other staff). Other employees are welcome to work with the student, but those working 1:1 behind closed doors should complete a background check.

How will Gibson Ek adults stay connected with me?

The student’s advisor (teacher) is your primary contact for the duration of the mentorship.

  • The advisor tracks attendance and evaluates the student's project work.
  • The advisor attends the initial set-up meeting and typically visits in person once or twice each trimester.
  • The advisor and program coordinator will email you regularly as well for updates and check-ins. 

Do I need additional insurance coverage?

Probably not. Parents are asked to sign an indemnification removing an obligation for the business or organization to obtain additional workers compensation insurance coverage. That said, the district requires that we only partner with businesses that have in place at least $1 million in liability coverage, standard for most businesses.

Is it legal to host an unpaid teen intern?

Yes. State and federal labor laws (those that might otherwise limit paid working hours for minors) cover our program, permitting students to engage in unpaid internships — known as work-based learning — for extended hours on job sites.

Can I pay my intern?

No. Students are ‘paid’ for their internship with academic credit. Because of this, paying interns is essentially ‘double-dipping’ and lessening the academic experience. In fact, state law forbids unpaid high school interns from fully displacing a paid employee. You may, however, pay your intern for work they do before or after the set internship hours, including summer.

What if I am having a problem with my intern?

Teens are just starting to learn what professionalism means, so they sometimes struggle with attendance or other appropriate actions. Please reach out to the student's advisor right away for support. We want to help troubleshoot and guide our students. You are not alone!

Why might an internship end — and how would I end it?

You and the student might mutually agree that the mentorship work and goals have been met, or the student may wish to try out a different career field, or you or the student may believe the fit is not positive for one or both sides.

  • ENDING A MENTORSHIP: Whatever the case, you and the student should first discuss the internship ending, you should set an end date, and both of you should immediately notify the advisor and the program coordinator. The student should ensure that any pending work is completed, and both of you will likely be asked to provide written feedback about the experience.

Casey Henry, Learning Through Interest Coordinator