Help us to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers!
What is the ASE Program?
The Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering (ASE) program connects motivated high school students with mentors in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) pre-professional internships.
Internships are eight-week, full-time summer positions, designed by mentors themselves. The driving value behind the ASE program is that the interns should contribute to and learn from the mentor's work. These internships take place throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, including Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, Vancouver and historically, Bend, Klamath Falls, Colton, and McMinnville. Mentor organizations include universities, hospitals, research institutions and private companies. The application process is competitive, with more than 400 applicants each year for approximately 110 positions. ASE internships attract rising sophomores, juniors and seniors from throughout the Northwest.
Roughly 70% of interns are from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences, including students who identify as non-male, Black, Latino/a/x/e or Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. ASE interns have been listed on published research, helped to design and test commercial products and spent countless hours in the field and in the lab.
There is a $3,600 program fee associated with participation with the ASE program as a mentor. This fee covers the cost of the intern stipend, the conferences (keynote speakers, panelists, venues, rentals, transportation), and program support (staff, application management & processing, mentor/mentee matching, applicant workshops, onboarding, insurance, end of summer packets, website governance). Mentors concerned about the fee should speak to program staff as soon as possible.
Why be an ASE Mentor?
- Gain valuable student contributions to your projects and research
- See your discipline through an excited student’s eyes
- Work with students underrepresented in your field
- Provide a professional development opportunity for your team
- Create a positive link between your organization and the community
What else did 2022 mentors have to say?
95% said their overall experience working with their intern was very good or excellent.
90% said their interns were able to complete the assigned tasks very well or excellently.
88% said their interns were able to fit into the workplace setting very well or excellently.
88% would recommend the ASE program to a colleague or friend.
85% were already planning to participate again in the program by the end of the summer.
Your mentorship makes an impact!
- 96% of interns felt the same or a stronger sense of belonging in STEM learning environments and STEM careers
- 99% of interns felt their technical or scientific skills increased as a result of the ASE internship
- 89% of interns felt their non-technical skills (communication, time-management, professionalism, collaboration) increased due to their internship experience
- 76% of interns felt more confidence in pursuing their career aspirations due to their ASE experience
- 96% of interns said if given the option, they would participate in ASE all over again
Steps to Mentorship
Select from the following:
We have many resources on our website to help you learn what the ideal ASE internship experience is like for the students.
- Start off by reading through The ASE Experience.
- To read what students have said about the program, visit the ASE Testimonials.
- Learn more about what materials students will be submitting by reading the Application Guide.
- Familiarize yourself with the timeline for the Selection Process.
- Get a feel for the program cycle by reading the Mentor Handbook.
- Understand what is expected of mentors by viewing the Mentor Expectations document.
Identify a project that a student can complete in eight weeks during the summer. This activity could be part of a larger effort within your group or organization, or a single, discrete project. Internships should provide opportunities for students to develop new skills and build on their learning, but should also contribute to the host site and mentor’s objectives. For advice on how to compose a position description using inviting, accessible language, please see our guide here.
We recognize the value of your time, so we do all we can to make sure that you’re able to focus on projects, not paperwork. Creating a successful internship relies on strong communication with your team and clear goals for what your intern(s) will accomplish and learn. Thoughtfully completing these steps will prepare you for a successful and productive eight-weeks and will make your mentor groups impact on the intern even stronger.
After the application deadline closes, ASE will forward candidate packets for you to review and rank. These packets include cover letters, recommendations and transcripts. You can also interview candidates in person, request work samples or speak to references.
Once ASE receives your rankings, ASE staff matches and confirms student apprentices. The ASE staff matches students based on mentor preferences (i.e. rankings) and student selections and interest level. Once you are notified of your matched students, it is time to finalize start/end dates for the internship. Students are instructed to reach out to schedule their hours and get your approval on their calendar. For a full time internship students should complete at least 240 hrs and as many as 320 hrs. If your internship is part time, they should complete a minimum of 160 hrs.
At this point, if you have not yet added ASE Summer Events to your calendar, you can find them here.
ASE hosts an evening Orientation session online. This is an opportunity to review the logistics and expectations for the internship, learn from experienced ASE mentors and meet the staff who will support your internship during the summer.
ASE students complete internships. The start and end dates of the internship are negotiated with mentor and student prior to Orientation, and should be between June 17th and August 23rd.
Select from the following:
ASE interns can focus on a single project or responsibility over the whole summer, or may work on a series of related programs within the same organization or work group. Each position provides interns with an opportunity to contribute to a mentor’s project, gain experience in a STEM-related profession, and present the summer’s learning at the August Symposium. Beyond those requirements, ASE interns take on an enormous breadth of roles, including freshwater mussel surveys, programming applications for Android, and research and development for rooftop car-racks.
There are many differences between an internship and a job, as outlined here by the U.S. Department of Labor, and here by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. One of the most important factors, and a driving value behind our programs, is that interns should both contribute to and learn from the work of their mentor. Internships are a learning opportunity outside the bounds of employment or formal education. Some roles that might seem monotonous or unsuited to a grad student or staff person can become a great opportunity for a student to build an ‘entry level’ skill in a professional, scientific environment, provided that those responsibilities are balanced with resources to understand the deeper processes and applications at play.
One thing that makes ASE unique among internship programs is that both applicants and mentors can rank each other, creating a matching process that’s unique to each internship. After submitting a position description, mentors let ASE staff know what knowledge, skills, and abilities they’re looking for in interns; ASE students can then apply to specific positions. After a basic screening process, ASE then forwards all applicants to mentor teams. Mentors may interview or request work samples from students prior to ranking candidates for their positions. The final matching process aims to match mentors’ most highly-ranked students with those students’ most highly-ranked positions.
ASE applicants are young, but given the competitive nature of the program- with about a 1 in 5 chance of an applicant getting an internship, and mentors’ ability to design their own positions and identify top candidates – we are very confident that the positions will be successful. Applicants have typically gone ‘above and beyond’ a typical high school curriculum to learn programming or technical skills on their own, and bring that approach to the internships.
ASE asks mentors to contribute $3,600 per intern to offset program costs and to provide a stipend for their student intern. 30% of this fee goes towards the $1,100 intern stipend. The rest of the fee goes towards other program costs:
- Teacher monitor pay
- Student recruiting, application processing, and matching
- Application assistance workshops (cover letter writing, interview skills)
- Intern & mentor orientation and support, intern liability insurance
- Student conferences (facilities, food, transportation)
- Program administration
- New mentor recruitment
As a non-profit organization, Saturday Academy relies on grants and contributions in order to operate. If the fee creates a barrier to your participating, please let us know; we can help identify possible internal and external revenue sources.
Most ASE Mentors- about 60%- fund internships with support from their own organizations. However, some research institutions, small start-ups or nonprofits, are challenged to provide the full $3,600 fee.
ASE is happy to provide letters of collaboration or support for grant proposals and supplemental requests. If you would like us to provide a letter, please send us the name of the funding organization, your grant title, a brief description of your grant proposal, the number of interns for which you are requesting funding and the funding level (total dollar amount). It is helpful to request the letter at least two weeks in advance of the grant deadline.
Some of the links below may be helpful:
National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation Homepage
NSF Merit Review Broader Impacts Criterion
Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS) Program for Businesses
RAHSS Information for Biology-Related Grants (can be used by Universities)
NSF Instructions for REU/RET/RAHSS Supplemental Funding – includes information on which line to enter participant support costs (i.e., intern expenses)
National Institutes of Health
While ASE provides liability insurance, all ASE mentors are required to provide a safe working environment for their interns. This includes providing appropriate safety equipment and training, just you would for a new employee.
We’d love to hear from you! If you have a position description in mind, please contact Allison Fritts-Penniman, Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 200-5860.
ASE Mentors may not work with a family member as an intern in their lab or organization. Family members of the mentor (being the child, grandchild, niece or nephew, - whether by blood or by marriage, or any other person residing in the same household) are ineligible for positions that present a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest includes mentor participation in intern selection, or funding intern placements.
We expect mentor organizations to prioritize their interns' safety and communicate directly with Saturday Academy and the intern regarding safety protocols aimed at protecting them and the public from COVID-19, including mask and vaccination requirements. All interns will sign a waiver for Saturday Academy stating that they understand the risk and agree to follow safety protocols as instructed by their ASE mentor.
If your organization does have a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for interns, please include that information in your position description.