Structure and Requirements
Students are expected to spend Tuesdays and Thursdays being mentored, whether in-person or virtually, throughout their high school career. The purpose is not for the student to function as an employee, but rather to develop a relationship with a mentoring adult professional and a real-world project to deepen learning and help students discover their professional interests. We sometimes call these "internships."
Below are the minimum requirements, but the expectation is that all students spend nearly all Tuesdays and Thursdays working with a mentor and working on a mentorship project, with the exception of 101s in September as they participate in LTI Kickstart.
101: 100 Hours plus 3 Shadow Days and/or Informational Interviews
201: 200 Hours plus 2 Shadow Days and/or Informational Interviews
301: 250 Hours plus 1 Shadow Day and/or Informational Interview*
401: 250 Hours*
*250 hours/year can be achieved if the student is in mentorship a minimum of 4 hours each Tuesday and Thursday from early October until late May.
Hours (In-Person): 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 4-6 hours a day. Hours do not need to align with school hours.
Hours (Remote): Students meet virtually with their mentor, ideally Tuesdays and Thursdays, and spend the rest of their work time on those days engaged in their internship project at home.
Hours (Combo): Mentor may prefer a shorter in-person time period of 2-3 hours. If so, students should work from home on the project the remaining time.
Time Span: Mentoring commitments can span just a few weeks or even multiple school years, depending on what works for the mentor and student.
Students should be realistic and open about opportunities. Many students come to Gibson Ek with high expectations for a “perfect” internship that would in actuality be unlikely for a teenager. Others arrive without any ideas about interests, skills or career goals. Neither approach is helpful.
The LTI coordinator and the student’s advisor will guide new students through career and personality exploration activities, but it is up to the student to determine which opportunities to pursue. Gibson Ek’s ImBlaze database offers numerous possibilities, but students are encouraged to reach out to friends and family for opportunities, whether for themselves or another. By working together as a community, Gibson Ek staff, students, and families can develop a diverse internship database.
Student outreach: Students are responsible for finding their own mentorship/internship. They may cold-contact interesting people or places, work through friends or family, or use our ImBlaze database to search for potential opportunities. Whatever the approach, the student contacts 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. If this meeting is in-person rather than virtual, students should complete a shadow day (field trip) permission form for the front office and arrange for transportation.
Paperwork: If all agree to proceed with the mentorship, the student and/or advisor should alert the LTI coordinator by completing the Internship Set-Up Request form. The coordinator then background-checks the mentor and emails a Learning Agreement to the student, parent, advisor and mentor to sign electronically.
Official start: When ALL PARTIES have signed the agreement and the background check is cleared, the coordinator will set up the mentorship in ImBlaze for attendance, and the coordinator will email everybody to confirm that the experience may begin.
Transportation: For in-person internships, students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the workplace, whether that be walking, driving or taking a city bus. Students and 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, even if they are interning remotely. This is how our office staff tracks mandatory school attendance. Mentors receive emails to confirm the attendance, and advisors track attendance. Students who fail to log in will be marked absent and also will not accumulate hours. Students who fail to log out also will not accumulate hours.
Tardies or absences: Students should ALWAYS be early or on time for their in-person internship or virtual mentor meetings. 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, even for virtual meetings in a remote internship. 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 (In-Person): 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.
Professional etiquette (Remote): Even during virtual meetings with mentors, students should follow the professional etiquette rules above. They also should ensure that they know how to work the video meeting tech, and if possible that they have a quiet space, bright lighting and an appropriate background.
Communication: Students should use only their Gibson Ek email (not personal) 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.
Workplace or Virtual Meeting Visits
Whether in-person or remote, advisors will visit with students and mentors regularly, usually once or twice per learning cycle. The advisor may spend time observing the student, talking to the student, helping the student with internship project work, or meeting with the mentor.
Internship Work: Projects and Reflections
Interns are expected to be engaged in learning through a project that aligns with the mentor's work. The mentor and advisor can help develop an appropriate project. More help and guidance is available on our Internship Projects web page. This project work should be displayed proudly in the student's portfolio and submitted to Dashboard for competencies to be assessed by the advisor.
The mentor may also – especially for in-person internships – assign some routine tasks to the intern that may or may not match the project.
Finally, interns must write an internship reflection at the end of each experience to share with the advisor and LTI coordinator.
Dealing with Issues or Ending the Internship
If a student is struggling with a mentorship for any reason, the student should talk to the advisor right away about strategies. BUT A STUDENT SHOULD NEVER SIMPLY STOP SHOWING UP TO AN INTERNSHIP OR TO VIRTUAL MEETINGS WITHOUT INFORMING BOTH MENTOR AND ADVISOR. his is highly unprofessional and damages the reputation of our program.
An internship might reasonably end, however, if:
- The mentor and student might mutually agree that the internship work and goals have been met.
- The student may wish to try out a different career field.
- The mentor or student may believe the fit is not positive for one or both sides.
If any of these apply, 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 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 placement, 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.
[This information is also printed in our Student Handbook. Please reach out to Casey Henry, LTI coordinator, with questions.]