Internships, Independence, and Inspiration

Intern/Mentor Program at Long Reach


Seniors Audrey Hafizian and Sarah Ngo pose in front of the Independent Research and Intern/Mentor sign in Ms. Dungey’s class. Photo Courtesy of Vung Bawi.

Purdue University Northwest claims that students who have internship experience are more likely to be considered by employers than students who do not have the experience.

Students participating in the Inter/Mentor program at Long Reach High School have a chance to gain experience and knowledge from a mentor outside of school.

According to the Howard County Public School System, the GT Intern/Mentor program allows mentors to help students “identify an authentic problem and [guide] the student with the development of discipline-specific skills needed to conduct the research.”

Ms. Dungey, the GT resource teacher at Long Reach, states that the purpose of Intern/Mentor is “to give students a real life experience” and “a peak into a career that they might be interested in pursuing.”

For example, a student might want to be a doctor, but students do not have the opportunity to learn whether it is a career that they can pursue or not. Through Intern/Mentor, the student could realize that they do not like the sight of blood and as a result, that would save them four years of college.

Mentors are professionals in the student’s chosen field of study and offer guidance to the students for their research. Students can choose a topic that they are interested in, and they have a wide variety to choose from.

In the past, mentors have included neuroscientists, geneticists, and teachers. Current Intern/Mentor students this year are Sarah Ngo and Audrey Hafizian, who are both seniors.

This year, Senior Sarah Ngo is interning at KinderMender, a pediatric clinic, and Senior Audrey Hafizian is interning at Marilyn Johnson Sewing and Design Studio, a design studio.

When it comes to choosing mentors, Ms. Dungey says, “It is always ideal if the student already knows who they want to intern with because it is easier to get a mentor to agree.”

However, that is not always the case, so Ms. Dungey has to find mentors which suit the interest of the students. She adds that the biggest challenge when reaching out to possible mentors is not getting a response. Ms. Dungey has to send emails to potential mentors, but it is not guaranteed that she will receive a response.

In general, an internship is beneficial to students. Ngo states that Intern/Mentor benefits the students because “it gives a real life experience” which allows the student to go beyond what is taught in school.

Hafizian adds that it allows the student to choose a topic “which is more interesting than a traditional base classroom, where you’re forced to learn a certain curriculum.”

Ngo and Hafizian have different responsibilities at their internships. Ngo explains, “Mine is more medical based, so I’m not allowed to do much because I’m not a trained professional. So I shadow a lot and [do] the basic things like I can take a kid’s temperature. I follow in with diagnosis from checkups.”

Hafizian says that her internship is different. She explains, “I work on pieces that [designers at the Marilyn Johnson Sewing and Design Studio] need for their clients.” However, she can also work on projects that she wants to make. Hafizian said, “We have patterns and make it [clothes] from scratch to build a final piece.”

As seniors taking Intern/Mentor, a challenge that they face is time. Hafizian said that since it is not in a class setting because they are at their internship, they do not have all the benefits of being in a classroom with a teacher.

Independent Research students have the advantage of being in class with Ms. Dungey, and it is similar to a regular classroom environment. In class, students can ask questions and work on assignments.

However, the students have monthly meetings with Ms. Dungey to talk about their internship. The students also get evaluated by their mentors every quarter. The evaluation is focused on the professionalism and punctuality of the students.

In summary, Intern/Mentor is an opportunity for students to explore their creativity and develop skills outside of school that will be able to help them in the future.