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A Learning through Internship Alternative for 301s and 401s

Gibson Ek allows juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate to participate in WANIC courses as an alternative to an internship. 

Students for whom this could be a good fit must

  • Be on track to graduate (currently meet standards for their grade level).

  • Ensure their advisor agrees the WANIC course meets their learning goals.

  • Have a daily transportation plan for their chosen WANIC course time and location. 

The WANIC program requires a daily academic commitment, students to miss some GE school time, and a method of transportation. Students and families should understand this before applying to WANIC.

What’s WANIC? 

WANIC (Washington Network for Innovative Careers) is an organization funded by Eastside school districts to offer career-focused half-day programs for high school credit. The courses are specialized for only some career interests, primarily including automotive, aviation, building trades, medical, art/animation, video games, some tech careers, firefighting, and culinary. 

Find a course list on the WANIC webpage. Courses can be viewed at this link. You can look at the list of specific programs through the link above. The courses are held for around 2.5 hours EVERY DAY FOR THE ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR either at Digipen, Lake Washington Tech or various Eastside high schools – and transportation is not provided. Work primarily is done in class with no homework.

Aligning With GEHS Goals

These courses align well with our goals for internships at Gibson Ek, which is why we accept them as an internship alternative for 301s and 401s. WANIC courses:

  • Employ a hands-on approach
  • Focus on “workplace expectations” that align with the professional soft skills we teach
  • Are taught primarily by professionals
  • Often include shadow days at work sites
  • Sometimes lead to professional certificates
  • Sometimes offer students the option to apply for college credit if they earn a “B” or higher. But they are not the same as Running Start; the WANIC courses that do offer college credit are considered high school credit courses on "dual enrollment." Students must apply for the college credit and meet certain requirements to earn it.

Hard-to-Find LTI Areas

WANIC provides career-based experiences in areas where in-person internships can be challenging to find due to safety considerations (health & medicine, building trades, firefighting, science lab work, aviation, automotive and even culinary) or a lack of in-person worksites (game design, sound design, art & animation, hardware networking). 

2-Year Options

A few WANIC courses are two-year programs that a student must begin as a junior if they want both years, but any of the single-year courses and the first year of two-year courses are available to both juniors and seniors, if seats are available. Some courses carry small program fees.  

Potential Graduation Pathway 

All year-long WANIC programs will meet the State of Washington's Graduation Pathway requirement for graduation. If your student has not met standard on the SBA, or if your student has challenges with standardized tests, WANIC programs will fulfill the Graduation Pathway requirement through the CTE Sequence Option. Contact our school counselor with questions.

Designed for Any Student

WANIC courses should be geared toward every student, whether college-bound or not. WANIC has an IEP liaison to help ensure those students receive appropriate support. Some college-bound students will use the WANIC program as a head start and inside look into careers that require four-year degrees.

Impact on M-W-F

Most WANIC courses are 2.5 hours daily for the entire school year, starting early in the morning or around lunchtime. Specific times and locations for each program are listed on the WANIC site. On T-Th, WANIC would count as a student’s LTI, with the student tackling SDL or capstone work for the rest of the day.

On M-W-F, the student would need to miss part of our GE day.  The student would likely either:

  • miss morning advisory and part of Exploration on M-W-F, OR 
  • miss Content, D-Lab and PM Advisory time M-F

This yearlong absence for a portion of each M-W-F could negatively impact a student’s ability to stay on track for graduating at Gibson Ek. The student’s advisor should feel confident that the student would benefit from the WANIC course and can handle the loss of GE time. WANIC must have school (advisor and counselor) approval before it will add a student to the lottery for course admission.

Summer Options

WANIC also offers a menu of free or free-ish summer courses, including some “intro” versions of the full-year courses as well as completely different offerings. This is a separate application process, also due in April. These come with strict attendance policies and will appear on a student’s transcript, BUT summer courses would NOT serve as an “internship alternative” for Gibson Ek or be a college-credit or certification option. Some families might decide, however, that this is a better way for some Gibson Ek students to access WANIC. 

Applying and Approval

If after considering all of this, reading through the WANIC website, and talking to the advisor, a family decides it’s best for the student to apply, click this green application “button” during the February and March application period. Applications close in mid-April, but students should aim to register by the end of March. GE’s counselor will receive from WANIC a list of those who have applied, and he must check with each advisor before giving WANIC the OK to add students to the lottery for courses. Admission is not guaranteed. 

Options for learning more about WANIC:

Digipen Heads Up: Any student interested in a WANIC course at Digipen MUST attend a Digipen info session to be considered for the program.