Mentor Guide

Hosting a Gibson Ek Intern

What to Expect

LEARNING THROUGH INTEREST

Internships serve as crucial learning for Gibson Ek High School students, allowing them to work with adult mentors whose careers match the students’ interests and aspirations. As a mentor, you have the opportunity to teach a student about the job, coach soft skills, and make a lifelong impact on a teen. Because students typically learn so much, the internship day is considered a school day.

GETTING STARTED

Shadow day: Many mentors 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. 
Set-up meeting: If you both agree to continue, the student’s advisor (teacher) will meet with you and the student to establish routines and goals. This meeting occurs just as or soon after the internship begins.

INTERNSHIP SCHEDULES

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.

INTERNSHIP WORK

Mentors set basic expectations for on-site work, which should range from menial tasks, to observation of or engagement in business operations, to a student-led independent project designed to benefit the organization. The student’s advisor can help with project ideas and planning, if desired.

PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR

Our students are generally polite and helpful, but mentors should also guide 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. 

Responsibilities

MENTOR 

Initial paperwork: Complete online a brief, confidential background check and basic information for a learning agreement.
Attendance reporting: Confirm attendance through our automated email system at the end of each internship day; inform the student’s advisor and the LTI coordinator immediately whenever a student is late or absent.
Student support: Oversee the student’s daily work and meet to check progress. 
Exhibition and feedback (optional, but encouraged): Attend the student’s exhibition, an hour-long presentation of his or her learning each trimester to a panel of teachers, peers and parents on campus. You also will be asked to provide written feedback around exhibition time or when the internship ends.

STUDENT 

Attendance: Check in and out through automated system; inform you immediately if they will be late or absent.
Transportation: Walk, ride the bus, drive or find a ride to the internship site.
On-site work and learning: Arrive on time, work on assigned tasks, maintain focus, meet professional expectations, follow respectful workplace norms (with your understanding that sometimes students will need guidance and direction).

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.

Internship Frequently Asked Questions

Am I the only one who can work with the student?
During the internship, you are 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 internship, though we encourage that you cc’ the LTI coordinator on any email communications.

  • ADVISOR: After the initial setup meeting, advisors typically are able to drop by once or twice each learning cycle (trimester) to see the student in action and check on progress toward learning or project goals. Some advisors may ask to pull the student aside for a longer 1:1 meeting on-site, and some may just visit briefly. You’ll also see the advisor at the student’s exhibition.
  • LTI COORDINATOR: The internship coordinator may also make brief visits occasionally and is always available via email. She also handles all paperwork and logistics of the internship program.

What would an “internship project” entail for me and for the student?
After a few weeks, you should discuss with the student what project they might complete while on site (if not decided initially). Note that the student’s advisor is available to provide guidance, if necessary, and we recognize that not all students or internships are suited to project work.

  • TYPES OF PROJECTS: Ideally, this project will relate to the student’s interests, be authentic and valuable to the organization, and incorporate some degree of academic learning (reading, writing, research, math, science, art, technology, etc.). The project may be completely original, complement or enhance work that is already underway, or mirror existing work — whatever is comfortable for the mentor. Student projects have included marketing, social media, inventory, accounting, visual design, coding and more.

Do I need additional insurance coverage?
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?
Students are ‘paid’ for their internship with academic credit. Because of this, paying interns is essentially ‘double-dipping’ and lessening the academic experience. 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?
It is crucial that we at Gibson Ek maintain a terrific relationship with our mentors! lf for any reason you feel that the intern is not meeting your expectations — or you simply aren’t sure how best to handle a particular issue — please contact the LTI coordinator and the student’s advisor.

Why might an internship end — and how would I end it?
You and the 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 you or the student may believe the fit is not positive for one or both sides.

  • ENDING AN INTERNSHIP: 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 LTI 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

Internship Coordinator
henryc@gibsonek.org
425-837-6353