Due to its rural location, making an internship program at Cross County High School in Arkansas was a stretch, yet the staff knew they needed to offer students authentic college and career experiences. After some creative thinking, the idea of a virtual internship program launched this year with over 40 mentors from around the world. Mentors were matched with student interests to provide real-world experiences.For Christie Long, a small animal veterinarian at Pet Coach, a virtual veterinarian site, a virtual internship aligned perfectly with Pet Coach’s business model.The goal of the virtual internship is to provide an authentic work experience. With over forty mentors identified, Cross County High is offering internships that vary from Marine Biology to filmmaking, with mentors located globally. “PetCoach allows me to connect with and help pet owners all over the world who are different from each other in so many ways, but alike in the most important way: they love their pets. As Chief Veterinarian at PetCoach, I get to select and train the top pet professionals from around the world, who ensure that we continually provide the highest standard of compassionate care to our community of pet parents,” said Long.When Cross County teachers reached out about the idea of the virtual internship, Long was excited. She is always looking for opportunities to give back to the community. Long has been working on a project that will offer Katelyn Martin, Cross County Junior, a sample of what being a vet tech is like.“Katelyn is researching various dog foods. She has an Australian German Shepherd that we hope to incorporate in her writing.”“We are also working on basics that will serve Katelyn in the business world. Proper form in emails, signatures, writing skills and research have all played a part in the training” noted Long. “The program is about helping Katelyn see the world and experience more in life. I see so much value in this internship. It is providing a global experience for these students.”Keith Bardsley, District College and Career Advisor, for Cross County High School, has found immense value and and and opportunity for equity for all of his students.“Dr. Long and Katelyn represent the epitome of a strong, Mentor-Intern relationship. Dr. Long provides Katelyn with rigorous content and together they’re creating an authentic product. Katelyn completely eats it up; I have never seen her more invested in any project. I am so proud of both of them. We are forever grateful to our 41 mentors, like Dr. Long, that go above and beyond to provide our students with these experiences. Each of them are helping us to create a dynamic and innovative learning community and they are transforming the way our students see the world.“ This blog is part two in a series on virtual internships. Check back for to hear from the student perspective.Read Part One: A Virtual Internship Reality.
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