All of our deliverables (programs, curriculum, activities, and events) and their attached costs will be defined in a contract between the school district and Challenge Central, Inc., parent company for The Internship Depot, The Rainmakers Club, and The Challenges.
Because our program targets underage students, we have developed operating protocols that protect them, our business volunteers, and our staff. We require strict adherence to these procedures. In particular, we guard the identity of students by ensuring that The Internship Depot never has access to that information. We require that school districts hire a part-time Site Director who is paid by the school district. Funding for that position is integrated into our per-student cost. As a part-time employee of the school district, the Site Director will provide on-sight management, have access to all student information, and will be responsible for getting our messages and notifications to participating students. The Site Director will ensure that participating students and teachers get the materials they need according to our activities calendar.
Check out more about our operating protocols in the bulleted list at the bottom of the page.
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Why Did We Invent a New Kind of Internship?
Site Directors are key personnel in ensuring successful delivery of The Internship Depot’s programs.
Site Directors recruited to the program are appointed by the hosting school with input from the Internship Depot and are responsible for managing the overall flow of various program components. The Site Director responds to directives from The Internship Depot but is hired/paid/dismissed by school administrators. Background checks are mandatory.
Participating schools must agree to support program objectives by implementing The Internship Depot’s intermittent curriculum as appropriate in grades 8 through 12, which will require that teachers use one or two lessons that we have developed. These lessons are content-specific, motivational, and approved by a panel of teachers to ensure the information presented to students align with state/federal academic standards.
Site Directors secure and distribute materials as necessary and perform other key tasks, some are simple administrative chores; others require direct involvement with students.
Site Directors also ensure that program information is provided to all school administrators and teachers as appropriate. Site Directors can act as facilitators for a number of our simulation games providing they have completed training for those activities. Site Directors will establish a ‘business council’ of local employers who will help promote the goals of the program.
The school district also agrees to provide information to students and their parents alerting them to the dates/times of various live or online events via school email lists, website highlights, and morning/afternoon public address announcements.
Spread It Out
School districts can determine how to pay for program implementation. School leadership can pay the program fee (currently $5.00 per high school student with free curriculum provided to all students in sending middle schools) directly out of their school budgets.
However, The Internship Depot strongly recommends that the school district asks high school students to ‘earn’ the $5.00 annual fee and use that effort to illustrate their dedication to their personal, academic, and professional growth. Subsequently, we will show students how to showcase this purchase on their résumés.
In fact, colleges and employers alike would use the activity as a measure of interest and dedication to their own success. Ideally, students would also be asked to add an additional $2.00 (for a total of $7.00 per year) to cover the expense of students for whom even the minimal amount of $5,00 would be difficult to find. Colleges in particular look for students who get involved in supporting altruistic activities, and students who earned and paid $7.00 to support their own and another’s effort at personal improvement would be highly regarded. Ultimately, most students spend more than our $5.00 annual cost every month for nail polish, chewing gum, movies, and haircuts.
Should the district (with or without fundraising support provided by The Internship Depot staff) raise funds for the enhanced program activities offered by The Internship Depot, all funds will flow through the school’s non-profit education foundation so contributors can avail themselves of a tax exemption. The school’s education foundation will distribute the funds to Challenge Central LLC (parent company of The Internship Depot).
During the Rainmakers Internship Preparation Program, there will be several situations which will require that students reach out to businesses to secure their Rainmakers Internship employer Host. We make sure that students who are under the age of 18 delay their outreach to secure an internship until they secure their majority. Employers do not want to work with under-age students and won’t sign contracts with a minor. Therefore, as we finish up our training near the end of senior year, we direct under-age students to wait until they turn eighteen to move forward with their internships. We expressly tell them that we will not support/mentor them if they reach out to employers while they are underage. We make sure they know that they have nine months after high school graduation to secure and successfully serve their internships.
We alert employers (for their own safety) to NOT accept a student as an intern until the students are at least eighteen and we advise parents to support that restricted access as well. In fact, we demand that students and employers sign a contract (via email) that defines the project and its various parameters, and in that contract, the student must state his/her age/birth date so the employer knows the age of the student.
The timing of our program has been carefully designed so that the ‘heavy lift’ of soliciting and securing an internship business Host occurs during senior year, when most students are, or are about to reach, the age of 18. No student under the age of 18 will do any outreach to any business person. In fact, most business people will not engage in any sort of individual relationship with a student under the age of 18 due to liability issues on the business side. The Internship Depot will ensure that business people are aware of the need to refrain from responding to, or involving themselves with, students who are younger than 18. The Internship Depot will ensure that participating business people are fully briefed on our protocols.
At no time do participating students who are under the age of 18 ever communicate with business Mentors in a one-on-one situation. All interactions between Mentors and minor students happen in teleconferences or webinars in which multiple students participate anonymously and invisibly. Mentor and student cell phone numbers are never exchanged. The Mentor is identified only as Ms./Mr. First-Last-Initials but does reveal his/her employer and job title. We advise Mentors to not accept or reply to phone calls or text messages sent to them by students. Should either an employer volunteer Mentor or student send/receive a text message, they will be dismissed from the program. All communications between Mentors and Rainmakers Candidates are done by email and we recommend employers save those emails for a period of one year after the student has completed the internship.
We assume that students will be using their cell phones and/or tablets, home computers, library, or school computers to in webinars and group teleconferences. Regardless, phone numbers are not exchanged at any time. One-on-one phone calls and text messaging between Rainmakers Candidates (participating students) and any adult affiliated with the program (paid Internship Depot staff or volunteer Mentors and Hosts) are not allowed, other than the appointed Site Director and high school staff, as necessary.
At key points during program implementation, The Internship Depot will need to send participating students information regarding program activities via email (such as dates and times for webinars or project due date notices). The Internship Depot will also need to accept information from students (such as project submissions in competitive team events) via email. To ensure safety within the email process, all exchanges between Rainmaker Candidates (participating students) and Internship Depot staff will flow through the Site Director, copied to various administrators as school policy may dictate. We recommend that copies of the emails be sent to parents as well.
During teleconferences, webinars, or other live online events, students will sign in using only their first names followed by a set of characters that will produce a unique, but anonymous, identifier.
No information about student identity (names, addresses) will be given to or shared with the Internship Depot staff or any adult involved in the project. All real student identifiers will remain with the school staff and the Site Director.
In addition, the school will be asked to provide all participating students with a phone number (usually that of the school principal or a guidance counselor) that will serve as a ‘hotline’ in case a privacy violation is suspected. Additionally, all participating adults will be advised to contact staff at The Internship Depot if a participating student makes individual outreach to them prior to their 18th birthday.
Participating schools will require Site Directors submit to a criminal background check provided by appropriate authorities as per the school’s/district’s policies. All employees of The Internship Depot are required to submit to criminal background checks on a regular basis.
Chunks of Available Time
We designed our three programs (The First Rung, The Stormy Wannabees Advantage Initiative, and The Rainmakers Internship Preparation Program) to work around the demands that students have on their time in school. We believe students’ most important job is to take challenging courses and get the best grades they can, so we are committed to moderating our demands. We carefully coordinate our activities so they fit into students’ schedules and give a wide margin around mandatory state test dates.
Many of our program activities can be done after school or on weekends — some activities require students work alone and in some activities work in teams, but we always allocate more than enough time to get our activities completed.
Many of the programs we offer to high school students who are in junior or senior year are all online (podcasts, teleconferences, webinars). We record our teleconferences and webinars so that if students miss the live event, they can hear the recording on our website.
Finally, no student approaches an employer to secure an internship before the end of senior year in high school when they have completed our training and as they turn 18 years-of-age.
Then students have nine months to make the internship happen and earn their way into The Rainmakers Club.
Pass the Word
We work with the Site Director and classroom teachers to announce the beginning of key Rainmakers activities via normal school communications procedures and ask, at a minimum, that the school include our key program dates in their regular email messaging, school newsletters, on their websites, and morning announcements.
We also ask schools to email parents about our key program dates so they can support student learning at home.
Participating students are also directed to our website for additional information, so they know exactly what they need to do and when it needs to be done.
Two of our activities require time in classrooms (two periods in sophomore and two in junior year) and we prefer working with students on the day before holidays when they are usually not ready to concentrate on academics. When we present various after-school learning events (podcasts, webinars, teleconference and other remote activities), we record the sessions so students who were not able to attend can listen to the information when they have time.
Finally, we write a bi-monthly online magazine for parents and teachers that will keep them informed about workforce development issues called The Workforce Chronicles. We ask that schools email the very informative publication to parents to help them understand how and why they can help their students succeed in college and the workplace.
Well, We Don’t
We function very much like an online university or remote industry training course. We have a lot of important information to give, but we don’t chase enrolled students. If they want what we offer, they have multiple opportunities to get the information, but we treat them like intelligent almost-adults who make their own decisions with their time. We make sure they know the repercussions of not learning what we offer, but we rely on them to be self-motivating. In other words, we treat them just as their future managers will. So we don’t take attendance.
We also don’t give students grades. We are not ‘a course’ in the formal assignment of the word. We would rather ‘entice’ them to join us because they find out that the information we give them can help them be better in high school, become more likely to pick the right career and college, and succeed as adults.
Thus, we increase the ability of each student to manage his/her own schedule and stay focused and on target. Emerging research indicates this inability to get ahead of/manage workload and avoid chaos is a major reason for poor grades in college even among highly successful high school students.