Remote Internship Program
We just launched a program that allows high school students to complete remote internships with companies in other parts of the country. Kids can choose whether they want to focus on business development, technology, finance, or other areas. Students who complete internships will receive letters of recommendation from the CEO of the company they worked for, which they can leverage when seeking scholarships, college entrance, and employment.
Connections to Real World Learning Roadmap
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As an innovative and heavily technology-based district, we use Real World Learning to provide our kids with opportunities beyond what’s available locally to develop their career readiness. We have just launched remote internships for high school students.
Implementation: How We Did It
We’re working with a provider (Paragon One) that connects us with companies that have internship opportunities and jobs for students. Students participate in a four-week training (set up by the company and overseen by a guidance counselor), and then they intern for four weeks under the mentorship of industry experts. We currently have three juniors in the program so that they can mentor other students next year if the program is successful and more students want to participate.
We’d heard about Paragon One and researched other companies that help to coordinate virtual internships. We had about four or five preliminary conferences with Paragon One to learn about the program and ask questions. They customized their program to match the skills outlined in the Portrait of a Graduate that our district developed. All of the central office staff, the high school principal, and the guidance counselor were involved in these meetings in order to get buy-in early.
The program costs $600 per student, so not every student can currently participate. Aside from cost, there are no prerequisites for students, so the opportunity is open to everyone. Down the road, we want to find ways to fund opportunities for more students to make the program equitable.
We’re a rural district, and there aren’t a lot of local partnership opportunities. Paragon One is currently our only partner of this nature, and also one of the only organizations that currently offers virtual externships. Paragon One coordinates the entire process, and they aligned their program to match the skills outlined in our district’s Portrait of a Graduate. Opportunities are available across four sectors: Finance and Venture Capital, Business Development, Market Research, and Social Media & Search Engine Optimization.
In Kentucky, we have school-based decision-making councils (principal, three teachers, two parents). All instructional programs run through them. They determine what type of credit students receive for work. Since this is a pilot, students who complete internships this year will be granted credit in the next school year. We want the program to become part of a Career Technical Education pathway so that it becomes an option for completion and students can earn a seal on their diplomas.
Our district developed a Portrait of a Graduate that outlines the skills we want our students to have developed by the time they leave us. The skills we’ve identified are embedded within the curriculum. Teachers have developed assignments and rubrics that align to the portrait. Paragon One has provided a matrix that we can use to measure student outcomes for the virtual internships.
Our team is learning and developing this opportunity together. Right now it’s only a pilot, so we haven’t had to professionally train our teachers. Currently, our guidance counselor works directly with Paragon One and students to oversee the training and internships.
Funding to date is coming out of our central budget, so we’re looking at a possible challenge down the line. Once we can determine the success of this pilot, we will have to figure out how to budget for it so that we can expand the program and make it equitable.
The Future of this Work
Since we’ve just launched a small pilot, we don’t have a plan for sustainability yet. If the pilot is successful, we hope to expand this opportunity so that more students can participate.