The core of the Student Internship-Union Mentoring Program model is a mentored summer internship experience at a unionized workplace, typically for about eight weeks, for a diverse cross-section of high school students. The internship features:
- an introduction to job interviewing and testing
- an introduction to workplace skills and expectations — and work requirements such as punctuality, communications, listening, reasoning, problem-solving, and computer skills;
- the guidance and supervision of an existing front-line worker/union member who serves as the intern’s on-site mentor as well as the support of others in the workplace (all union mentors are provided with union-led mentor training).
- actual work experience and a regular paycheck;
- the opportunity for the intern to be a full-fledged employee and union member at the worksite and to receive an entry level (or intern-level) union wage;
- an introduction to an entire industry and to the multiple technical and craft jobs that make up a worksite in which the intern is working;
- an introduction to labor-management relations and labor history, including a unique “Labor History Day” educational experience.
To complement the actual work-based learning component and to ensure that it is part of a learning system rather than just a summer job, the program design calls for working closely with local education and other youth-serving community partners, and — wherever possible — to involve parents through a pre-internship orientation and/or a post-internship recognition activity. Although they are still students, workplace interns are supported and guided by collaborating unions and union-trained mentors and thus are embraced as workplace “peers” of their co-workers. Therefore, they are expected to approach their work with the same kinds of diligence, responsibility, teamwork, and joint problem-solving that are expected of any other employee.