Read about how mentoring plays an important role in our ASPIRE after-school and summer program in this blog by Isabel Gallego, Senior Staff Associate, ASPIRE High School Program and Allison Footit, Supervisor, ASPIRE Middle School Program:
The idea to create ASPIRE’s high school summer internship came about due to the need for our high schoolers to have hands-on work experience for both college and career readiness. Interested students were guided through the application process as they created resumes and cover letters, interviewed with staff members, and learned workplace norms like dress codes, clocking in and out for their shifts, and attending staff meetings.
The internship was a great mutual experience for the interns and the middle school students. The high school interns learned how to lead a classroom and mentor young students while gaining skills that could be applied to later experiences both within and outside of the workplace. The majority of our high school applicants had themselves experienced all three summer curricula, which meant they not only knew the activities well, but that they had first hand feedback to provide staff and students.
One major part of the internship was helping the high schoolers embody their roles as leaders and mentors for the younger students. The middle schoolers were able to build strong relationships with high school students who had recently been in their shoes, as well as receive additional support and guidance throughout their summer projects.
The feedback from the high school interns was overwhelmingly positive. One student said that the summer internship helped her learn how to be more patient with others and speak to students in a way they understand. Another high school intern agreed that he learned how to be more patient with others as well as opportunities to work on his leadership skills. The program was so successful that it was expanded so incoming juniors could also participate.
The interns gained valuable skills necessary for the job market including leadership, communication skills, reliability, time management, and decision making. The middle school students still see the high school interns at the ASPIRE program and, for many, their relationships have continued to flourish throughout the school year. Middle school students still reach out and talk to their older peers for guidance about things going on in their lives, creating some truly lasting mentorships.