In-person entry events

Why we do this

The in-person entry event is an embodiment of why Sidekick is called "sidekick." A sidekick's role is to make the hero look good, feel good, and do good. This is your opportunity to be the "sidekick" for the students. In order of priority, your goal for every interaction with a student or set of students during the in-person entry event should be to:

1. Build rapport

Your most important goal with in-person entry events is to become credible and relatable to the students, so they trust you when you provide advice and support. It's why meeting them in-person at the beginning is so important.

2. Spark relationships

We don't expect long-term relationships to snap into existence in the short time you have during in-person entry events, but we hope that by putting you together with students there may be a "spark" between you and one or more of them that causes you both to want to pursue a longer mentor-mentee relationship.

3. Foster Heroic Identities

Sidekick's model for making an impact is based on our Heroic Identity framework. That means we help students cultivate 3 assets and 3 mindsets. We design every touchpoint we have with students with the intent to foster all 6 components of the framework, but each touchpoint tends to support a few better than others. Because of how rich in interactions in-person entry events are, they're excellent opportunities to foster all 6 assets and mindsets.

Schedule for an in-person entry event





Gather class and welcome the partner



Introduce you



Introduce the issue



Project workshop






Release the class to work on their projects



Help students as a floating advisor


For teachers

The following guide is primarily useful for partners but we've found it's often useful for everyone to get the same instructions so they know what the others are expecting. We've embedded a few pointers for teachers for this reason. If you want, jump straight to the teacher pointers with the following links:

What to do, templates, and examples

Set the stage

Introduce the partner

To build rapport, you'll want to start off by connecting with students personally. Here's an ad-lib 1-minute introduction to get you rolling.

I’m {{ name }}. I work for {{ employer }}, an organization in the {{ sector }} industry that {{ what your employer does }}.

As a {{ your job title }}, I {{ what you specifically do }}. That means I {{ what you specifically do again, this time with no industry jargon }}.

When I was starting my career, I loved {{ favorite skill or interest at the time you entered the field }}/wanted to {{ aspiration at the time you entered the field }}. I had come to believe that {{ view you held about your personal skills, where you "belonged", or what you were capable of}}.

A major part of the reason I'm in this role is because of {{ key relationship }}. It all started when {{ a story about how a key person in your life helped you }}. I've stuck with it because {{ how the role addresses your current aspirations or interests }}. 

It also lets me use the {{ your strongest skill that students are currently learning }} skills I learned in high school to {{ how you use that skill }}.

I know how important that support from others can be and hope I can provide it for one of you. So here I am!

Introduce the issue

You have the unique power to make what they're learning real, local, and personal. This is also an opportunity to skill up students. You can do that by bringing an expert work sample to life.

For teachers

After the partner has introduced themselves, set the context for the partner by reintroducing the project, sharing the students' current progress, and reminding the students (and the partner!) what students are learning as part of this project. Then, turn it back over to the partner.

Walk through a real life situation

The teacher will likely help set the stage by explaining (or having the students explain) what they've accomplished so far, what they're learning, and what they're focused on now. Afterward, ask the students how they're feeling about the project. Where are they most open to help? You can incorporate their feedback into your later walk-through and advice.

Then, situate the work sample you will soon walk through. Here's an ad-lib to get you started.

I understand you are working on {{ assigned work product }}, which will help {{ who it could help }} {{ how it could help them }}.

About {{ how long ago }} ago, {{ other key people }} and I needed to {{ objective or problem }}.

One of the key challenges we had to overcome was {{ challenge that your expert work sample addresses }}. We created a {{ similar work product }} similar to what you are working on now.

Our {{ similar work product }} helped us {{ how it helped you overcome the challenge }} and we ultimately were able to {{ outcome related to the objective or problem }}.

After introducing the issue, spend about a dozen minutes to walk through an annotated expert work sample you put together ahead of time to give students an authentic "north star" that will help them advance on their own work. Especially focus on "insider shortcuts" that will help them make a lot more progress than if they'd had to figure it out on their own. Also point out where they'll use what they're learning in class. You may have already flagged these when you annotated your work sample, so it should be as easy as calling out those flags.

If possible, make it an interactive workshop, where you refer to your expert work sample while helping them set up or start their own work. Otherwise, treat it like show-and-tell.

Project advice

For teachers

Chances are, students may not have a clear idea of how to get from A to Z on a real world project. Or, they're facing a hurdle with wrapping their heads around a specific task within the project. These types of problems are the perfect place to get an expert's advice. Prior to the partner's visit, prepare your students by having them compile "how to" or "how do I" questions regarding how to approach the project.

After you've shown the students how you tackled a relevant, similar project, switch to helping students figure out how they should approach their actual assignments. During this time, think of yourself as a project advisor. Your goal is to give students concrete plans to enact, either for the project overall (how do I get from A to Z?) or for specific tasks they may be most confused by (How do I get from A1 to A5?)

The students should come prepared with "how to" questions like these. If possible, help the student think through the plan themselves rather than only telling them how you'd do it. If it's not possible, giving stories from your experience is also effective.

Still have time remaining?

For teachers

We recommend teachers dedicate the remaining time to Q&A and in-class project work. You may, however, coordinate with the partner another way to spend your time.

Absent of other plans you've coordinated, expect to spend a dozen minutes or so in Q&A and then to act as a floating advisor as students work: the teacher or students directly will pull you in to provide expertise as they discuss an issue close to your field. However you use your time, it will be more like a conversation with the students. This is when you can really help students feel good, look good, and do good. A few important and common situations you'll find are:

  1. answering "how" questions: "how" questions are an opportunity to validate the ideas and skills students already have. Instead of telling students exactly how to do something, ask them how they'd do it, given what's at their disposal. Then, use your expertise to supplement their strategy for how they'd do it with tips and tricks based on how you'd do it. This is similar to what you did during the project workshop portion of your visit.

  2. answering "what" questions: "what" questions are an opportunity to feed aspirations and a sense of belonging by sating their curiosity.

  3. answering personal questions: Students are often curious about you and chances are you'll start taking questions about your life and career.This is a great way to build rapport. Have fun with it (with discretion) and be open, recognizing that questions that may seem too personal or uncomfortable usually come from a place of innocence.

  4. navigating misguided questions: occasionally, you'll get questions or requests that are based on false assumptions or information and may even be offensive. This is probably not on purpose. These are teens. They're probably just misguided. Sometimes it's harmless and you can humor it, but other times it may be more productive to share a more accurate perspective. The key is to do so with grace (recognizing that they probably did not mean any malice), affirm the feelings of the student (which are real no matter the facts), and keep it personal (so they relate to it). When successfully navigated, these questions are an opportunity to increase the student's agency rather than reduce it.

We don't have template you can follow that will cover all the potential scenarios. Here are a few example scenarios, however.

Example response to a how question

How did you make your movie?

There are several good ways. How are you thinking of making yours? For example, what are some of the scene you are thinking of?

Oh, uh...

It's your movie. You know it better than me, so your ideas are going to have some insight we can work with.

Well, one scene I was thinking of would be kids sitting along the sidewalk, because...

Great idea. It reminds me of a scene I did for my movie. I was trying to...

Example response to a what question

How much do you make?

Always an important question! I'm not rich and I have to hustle to make what I make, but I make enough to live the life I want to live. The most important things for me are....

May I ask what made you curious about how much I made? And what is important to you? Maybe I can help recommend some ways in my field that you can live the life you want to live.

Example response to a misguided question

How come the Senator doesn't care about housing prices?

I can see how it sometimes feels that way. In fact, I've seen... and that could feel like the Senator doesn't care. From my personal experience, I've also seen her... so I, personally, believe the Senator does care.

May I ask why you asked the question? I think the Senator wouldn't want you ever needing to ask that question. I know I do. So if you have an experience or idea that could make that a reality I'd personally love to hear it.

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