Intern/Mentor Program FAQ's

General Description...
The G/T Intern/Mentor Program is a college-level course in which students design an original research study or creative production. Students study off-campus with a professional mentor in a self-selected area of interest. Student research or creative production focuses on contributing new knowledge to the field of study. The G/T resource teacher facilitates classroom and internship experiences, focusing on advanced-level research methodologies and college-level writing and oral presentation skills. At the mentor site, students apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in an authentic, professional environment. Interested students contact the G/T resource teacher to secure an application and schedule an interview. Placement decisions are contingent upon the availability of mentors in the specific field of study.

How is a mentor located?

It is my job to ultimately connect a student with an internship.  However, students who have connections with professionals are asked to share those during the application process and beyond.  Students are encouraged to talk to family, friends, neighbors, etc. who might work in the field of interest.  I will then be in contact with these people to tell them more about the program and explore the internship.

I have several contacts from years of working in this program, and will also work to place students with professionals who have worked with us before.  Students interested in places like hospitals, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, and other large sites will be provided with additional application materials when they are available.  However, I cannot guarantee that your child will have a direct match with what is on the application.  It is always my goal, but not always possible.  Students need to be flexible.

Once a student is placed, neither the student nor the parent is at liberty to refuse the placement.  There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into placing students.  If a student or parent is unhappy with the placement offered, they have two options:  (1) locate a different internship on their own, (2) switch to Independent Research.

It is important for parents to be realistic about internship opportunities and locations.  Many professionals in our local area serve as mentors, but students interested in specific science research opportunities and clinical medicine internships should be prepared to drive into Baltimore City or to College Park.  It is unrealistic to assume all students will be placed in Ellicott City or Columbia.

How is Intern/Mentor scheduled?

Intern/Mentor is ideally scheduled as a student's 6th period class, meaning that every day, during 6th period, they are released from school for their internship.  Because the class length is 50 minutes, this means students should spend roughly 4-5 hours each week at their internship.  Students generally do not go every day - they might go twice each week for 2-3 hour blocks of time.  On the days they do not attend, they might go home early, or stay at school with me or another teacher (if they have permission).  The time at the internship is equivalent to time spent "in class" for other traditional classes.  

Occasionally, a student cannot take Intern/Mentor during 6th period because of a scheduling conflict.  It is possible to take it during another period of the day if the student is available to attend the internship after school (as it is not possible to leave and return to school in 50 minutes).  There is no guarantee that internship locations are open in the evening or on weekends.

Students who are enrolled for 2 credits will take the course during 5th and 6th periods and will be expected to spend 8-10 hours on site each week.  They will be released from school at the start of 5th period.

Is there coursework in addition to the internship?

This is a research course, so in addition to the internship time, students also do a great deal of reading and writing, and have regular assignments that help them develop their research idea, paper, and project.  You might think of this as the equivalent of "homework time" in other traditional classes.  To help you understand this piece, imagine that your child is interning with a lawyer.  While at the internship s/he shadows the lawyer in the office, helps with office routines, talks with professionals, sits in on meetings, goes to court, etc.  His/her research might be something that sparks his/her interest (even if s/he doesn't see it regularly at the office) - for example, how law is keeping up with internet security and privacy.  S/He would do assignments all year on this topic and ultimately write a research paper exploring it, collect data, and put together a final product to share their information and experience.

What if my child is an athlete, or involved in other after-school activities?

Some students (particularly those with sports in the afternoon) consider taking the course for 2 credits.  Because they are released from school at 12:30, some spend 2 hours at the internship every day, and are still be back at school by 3pm for practices.  This, of course, requires availability in the schedule for 2 credits, and can be a tough choice for students who already have 6 other courses in mind.

If I am able to place a student before the summer, they may begin accumulating hours in the summer and count a portion of those hours for their required time during the school year.  Students may also accumulate more than the required hours during any marking period so that when they are in a sports season, they can cut back their hours.

I want to be clear, however, that students are required to attend their internship all year, as missing it during a particular month or sports season is the equivalent of skipping class for that same period.  It is an academic class with a grade, and curricular events outside the school day take priority over extracurricular events (HCPSS Policy 8090).

Your child will generate a schedule with the mentor that works for their mutual schedules. The mentor may also allow the student to do internship work from home from time-to-time, which is acceptable.

What if the student locates a full-time summer internship?  Can that count as the Intern/Mentor internship?

Most summer internships are in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields, though it is possible to have a full-time internship in another field. If a student wishes to use their summer experience for Intern/Mentor, the following criteria must be met:

  • The student would need to have a research project, and would not be simply shadowing for the summer.
  • The student is expected to complete the same number of hours (this year, that would equate to 140).
  • The student must maintain a daily log of activities.
  • The student must enter at least 3 science competitions to showcase his/her research, and 1 of those must be the HCPSS STEM fair. 
  • During the school year, the student may either stay at school with Dr. Kiehl during his/her internship period, or go home.  The student will follow a slightly modified calendar from his/her peers. S/He will complete assignments much earlier than his/her peers - for example, the paper will be written in first quarter (instead of third), and the display board in second (instead of third/fourth). The student would stay in regular contact with the mentor.
  • The mentor would be asked to provide the student with a grade at the end of the summer.  Throughout the school year, the mentor will be consulted for feedback on a few assignments, such as the paper, research proposal, etc.  This would likely be once/twice per marking period.

What is the work load?

The work load is very manageable if the student develops strong time management skills.  During the first half of the year, there are small assignments due weekly, and large assignments due roughly every 3 weeks.  During the second half of the year, the weekly assignments diminish, and students begin writing their papers and collecting data.  There is little direct instruction since students do not come to class.  I correspond regularly with students by email for reminders, meet with them monthly for one-on-one conferences, and pull the whole group together monthly for lessons/seminars.  This is how they receive instruction and directions.  I also correspond with students via email on a regular basis. 

How is my child graded?

Your child will receive two grades.  The first is my grade and consists of all of the assignments they have submitted.  The second is the mentor’s grade, and this is based on their professionalism and participation at the internship.  These grades are averaged each quarter.  How they are averaged is explained on the Grading Policy distributed at the start of the school year.

One of the most important aspects of this course is that it requires a great deal of independence from your child.  I welcome your questions, but please also encourage your child to advocate for him/herself, just as they would in the professional workplace or on a college campus.  They have been given an incredible opportunity and will get more out of it if they take greater responsibility and initiative.

If you have additional questions, you may find they are answered in the opening letter to the Intern/Mentor Application, located under the Program Documents link.

The documents below are from the 3/18 meeting for students accepted into the program.
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Melissa Kiehl,
Mar 18, 2014, 8:14 AM
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Melissa Kiehl,
Mar 18, 2014, 8:15 AM