10 Big Ideas We Are Learning Through Our High School Internships

two students using medical machine as part of a high school internship

By Kemberly Garcia and Iris Ramirez

Editor’s note: Bonnie Lathram recently visited Highline Big Picture Schools, a Big Picture Learning School in the Highline School District (where she worked for 8 years). There, she had a chance to chat with two 9th grade students about their internships. At Big Picture Learning schools, students experience place-based education twice a week through their internship experiences, beginning in the 9th grade. Students first explore their interests, then conduct informational interviews and shadow days and finally formalize an internship in the community with their mentor, where they work together on real-world projects. In the course of talking with Kemberly and Iris, Bonnie asked if they would write what they are learning through their internship experiences so far. This blog is largely unedited and is in the words of Kemberly and Iris, two high school 9th-graders.

(Iris & Kemberly)

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Focus on Curiosity and Interests

We attend Highline Big Picture. This is what we learned through our internship exploration. We also attended Big Picture Middle School. Being interested is very important because it strongly shows that you care about your career. You’ll also become more enthusiastic about learning through your interest. It also means putting a great amount of effort into all your work and making sure all your assignments gets completed. Asking a lot of detailed questions throughout the period of time spent with your mentor shows that you’re curious and want learn more about the career setting and job positions.

Be Yourself

Being yourself at Big Picture High School is something very important. This school isn’t a regular high school where you get judged for who you are. Being different and being yourself is what makes Big Picture so special. Being yourself also makes it easier for advisors and mentors to communicate with you.

Celebrate Uniqueness

Each and every student has completely different interests than the other students. The reasons why they follow the interest are also totally different. Every student works at their own pace and completes their work differently. It doesn’t matter the method the student decides to complete their work and assignments, as long as the work itself is getting done. There are some students that prefer to do everything by hand, and there’s others who prefer to do everything digitally. Without the students that attend Big Picture, Big Picture wouldn’t be what it is today.

Follow Dress Code and Language Code

Dressing business casual is something that strongly impacts your appearance and other people’s point of view of you. Combining dress code and language code together is very necessary. Being dressed business casual and speaking in a very brutal way will automatically ruin your appearance. It’s extremely important to be mentally and physically prepared before going out in the real world.

Use Connections

Ask your peers if they know anyone that can help you with your future career setting. Getting in contact with the person can make you become more familiar with what you’re interested in.

Conduct Interviews, Follow-ups, & Job shadows

Interviews, follow-ups, and job shadows are the most important things of learning through your interest. Getting out in the real world and interviewing people that work in your career interest will show tons of effort and the amount of attention you give to the setting. Following up with a thank you letter shows that you’re appreciative of the time that person took out of their day to have you interview them. Requesting a job shadow in your follow-up will definitely show tell the person that you want to continue seeking for knowledge in their career setting.

Do Your Paperwork

Before actually going out in the real world, there is a meeting that has to be set up with your advisor and mentor. The paperwork shows that your advisor, mentor, and yourself is willing to commit to have you in their workplace and train you with the skills and knowledge that is needed. The meeting is conducted by the student because they are the ones who requested to intern there.

Be a Good Communicator

Having strong communication with your peers, advisors, and mentors is important because you want to know your strengths and weaknesses. Also because having a bond get’s you closer to each other and that means more opportunities.

Keep in Touch

Keeping in touch with your mentor is super important. Keeping in contact shows that you’re actually interested, and that you care about your career and position. Even after your interview, job shadow, and internship being in touch has a lot of value. Your mentor would love to know how you’re growing and how your interest change throughout time.

Trust Each Other: “Once you’re at Big Picture you never really leave”

Being at Big Picture is an experience that will truly impact you positively. The students grow a strong bond together and help each other out. Once you grow a bond with someone, it’s really hard to let go. At the end of the day we end up seeing ourselves as a family. Graduation is tough, seeing each other grow through all the struggles.

This blog is part of our “Place-Based Education” blog series. To learn more and contribute a guest post for the series, check out the PBE campaign page. Join in the conversation on social media using #PlaceBasedEd. For more, see:


Kemberly Garcia is a student at Highline Big Picture Schools with a dream of one day becoming a pediatrician. Iris Ramirez is also a student at Highline Big Picture Schools. You can follow Kemberly on Twitter @kembizgarciaa.


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1 Comment

Andrew Frishman

I was so glad to read this piece by Kemberly and Iris and particularly appreciative that it aligns with much of what Tom Vander Ark and I discussed in this podcast - http://www.gettingsmart.com/2016/12/getting-smart-podcast-big-picture-learning-in-the-real-world/

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