Internship Projects

Developing a Meaningful Project

Whether a student is in-person at a workplace or meeting virtually with a mentor, the student should have a project to work on that relates somehow to the career interest.

Some mentors know immediately what a student could be working on, but we expect most of our mentors will collaborate with the student and advisor to design a project that makes sense. We recommend taking ONE of these THREE approaches:


Ideally, the student is working on something truly usable by the mentor's organization. Examples:

  • creating a promotional video or brochure
  • making calls to voters for a political campaign
  • drafting online schedules or newsletters
  • sorting and analyzing customer or inventory data
  • building or making products
  • designing an activity for children or seniors

If the mentor does not have work that a teen could authentically tackle, consider a ...


The student tries to do what the mentor does as the mentor is doing it, building competence as they compare their work to the professional work. Examples:

  • writing code if the mentor is a software engineer
  • preparing a restaurant’s recipes if the mentor is a chef
  • creating curriculum if the mentor is a teacher
  • making an architectural drawing if the mentor is an architect
  • designing a print promotion if the mentor is a graphic designer

If an organization is unable to offer an authentic or parallel project (e.g. safety concerns), try ...


Student simply learns content about the professional's field. The mentor helps the student by suggesting learning topics, reviewing their progress, and emphasizing the importance of that content to the career field. Examples:

  • researching the anatomy of cats and dogs if the mentor is a vet
  • diagramming how car engines function if the mentor works in a repair shop
  • taking an OSHA safety course if the mentor is in a construction trade
  • learning Javascript if the mentor is a programmer
  • analyzing skin care ingredients if the mentor works in a spa 

Still stumped? Mentor, advisor and student should put their heads together and collaborate during a project development meeting early in the internship.

Casey Henry, Learning Through Interest Coordinator