Information for Mentors

Thomas S. Wootton High School

2100 Wootton Parkway, Rockville, Maryland 20850

Telephone: (301) 279-8550 (main office)

(301)-517-8136 (DNA Resource Center)

Fax: (301) 279-8569

Science Internship

Information for Mentors

Introduction: Mentoring is an ancient and honored tradition of assisting another to develop personally and professionally. Often, mentoring a young person is exciting and stimulating; and interns and mentors form life-long bonds of friendship. Certainly, mentors gain some unpaid work assistance from their interns. The main gratification, however, is in knowing that you have helped a young person along the path toward being a contributing member of society.

An internship is a unique experience for students and mentors. Internships are typically non-paid, career-focused programs that allow the student the opportunity to explore and clarify tentative career choices in a particular field of interest. Learning on the job can be uniquely beneficial. No matter what happens – success, failure, or adjustment- the intern gains experience and acquires useful personal information. Internships also offer students the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the larger community while gaining self-knowledge.

Working with a mentor allows the student to begin to make the psychological transition between the structured, sheltered environment in high school and the greater personal independence and responsibility of the professional workplace. Students learn to relate to others while working toward a common goal as well as apply the knowledge and skills gained in academics to an authentic learning experience.

Goals: A science internship will enable students to:

· identify a field of interest; observe and participate in related professional activities; understand its requirements and characteristics and determine whether the field is compatible with the student’s interests, values, skills and aptitudes.

· apply academic learning to practical situations and to apply work experience to academics.

· develop the interpersonal skills necessary in working relationships with adults such as the ability to work independently and responsibly, to set appropriate personal and work related priorities, to plan and schedule work related activities and develop the work habits such as promptness, reliability, and accuracy that are necessary for a professional environment.

Time-Line: There are three semesters: Fall (September – January), Spring (February – May) and Summer (June – August). Student interns will begin their workplace assignment in the beginning of the semester. With few exceptions, interns will be expected at the mentor’s workplace each week, Monday through Friday for a minimum of 150 hours per semester, 75 hours per quarter. During the academic year, this is approximately 10 – 12 hours a week; and during the summer, 4 - 6 weeks of full time work. Although students may begin the course at any semester, most interns want to remain with the mentor for several semesters yielding combinations of academic year and summer work time. These arrangements can be made on an individual basis if the mentor and the student agree to continue the internship beyond the semester. Students are not required to attend if Montgomery County Public Schools are closed due to inclement weather or scheduled holidays.

Mentor’s Role: The mentor’s role in successful internships is critical. The mentor will assume responsibility for directing the intern’s education while at the mentor’s place of employment. Interns are to learn content and technique as well as workplace practices. The mentor will integrate the intern into the operational scheme of the workplace so that the intern’s and the mentor’s positions can complement and reinforce each other. The intern’s role is like a special assistant-in-training. The intern will attend meetings, journal clubs and conferences (if possible) with the mentor; and under close supervision take on assignments. Although we are all aware that some of the work of any profession might be called “busy work”, we are also aware that it is often necessary work. Intern’s assignments are not to be only “busy work”, but may reflect those kinds of activities as necessary for professional obligations. It is important for interns to have responsibilities, and be held accountable for fulfilling them. Tasks should have educational value, acquaint the intern with the job and be of use to the organization. Sample activities include: lab activities such as performing reactions, researching topical information in electronic databases, data entry and analysis, helping draft reports, etc. It is not necessary for the mentor to assign the intern an independent (research) project as is done in some of the more intensive internships. The intern can be responsible for some aspect of an on-going work site project. Generally, interns will spend several hours daily at the intern site. Full credit for the course is based on 150 hours per semester of on-site job activity. This is approximately 10 hours per week. The mentor, the intern and the intern’s parents/guardian will work together to determine a schedule that will meet the participants’ needs. For example, the intern may work fewer days but longer hours. The coordinator will monitor the interns and visit work sites on a rotating basis to meet with mentors and discuss the intern’s progress.

Mentor’s Responsibilities: In order to assure that the intern and the mentor have a safe, successful experience, the mentor agrees to fulfill the following responsibilities. The mentor will:

· Provide an experience, with or without pay (at the work site’s discretion), which is broadly educational in scope, supportive of the stated educational objectives of the program, and directed toward providing the intern with an understanding of how the professional organization functions. The mentor and intern will develop an individualized work plan.

· Provide the intern with opportunities to accompany the mentor to staff meetings and conferences and undertake special assignments designed to enhance the intern’s learning.

· Provide an organizational overview by briefing the intern about the organization, including its priorities and major programs and how the intern fits into the program

· Provide information about hours, lab and office procedures. The mentor will advise the intern on appropriate workplace behavior and dress.

· Provide daily supervision, or designate someone else to do so. Verify the intern’s attendance, and notify the coordinator if the student is absent without prior approval of the mentor.

· Evaluate the intern and the program at the end of the semester.

· Adhere to all pertinent lab and work site regulations and policies, including safety, employment, personnel and insurance regulations, as well as the regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

We look forward to your participation. I am sure you will find this a rewarding experience. Thank you very much for volunteering for this program.

Lesli Adler, Coordinator