University News

U. to prioritize internship resources

Improving internship support services was a top concern for students in a UCS poll this month

By
Contributing Writer
Monday, October 28, 2013

Improving the University’s efforts to connect students with internships will be a key priority as part of the implementation of President Christina Paxson’s strategic plan, administrators said.

The strategic plan, “Building on Distinction,” highlighted the need to incorporate more “real-world” opportunities and interactions with alums into undergraduate education and endorsed providing more financial support to students from lower-income backgrounds so they can hold unpaid internships.

“We want the students to be constantly moving between campus and the real world, partaking in social-good projects,” said Patricia Ybarra, associate professor of theatre arts and performance studies and co-chair of the Committee on Educational Innovation. She added that the strategic plan’s implementation will include efforts to allow students to access more international work experiences and to take time off to pursue educational opportunities outside the classroom.

Improvements in the University’s internship support services rank highly among students’ concerns. A poll conducted this month by the Undergraduate Council of Students found that 49 percent of students ranked the creation of “a robust internship program” as one of their top three priorities for administrators, while 13 percent of respondents ranked growing internship opportunities as their highest priority.

Students have frequently voiced frustration with navigating the University’s current resources for finding internships, said Kenny Breuer, professor of engineering and a member of the Committee on Educational Innovation. “They would like to have more centralized services,” Breuer said.

The University already connects students with hundreds of internship opportunities through various research programs, the Linking Internships and Knowledge Program and the Swearer Center for Public Service, said Andrew Simmons, director of the Center for Careers and Life After Brown. CareerLAB’s LINK program provides funding to students who have secured low-paid or unpaid internships.

Simmons also pointed to opportunities for student-alum interaction such as Brown Degree Days, a series of events in which alums return to campus to discuss their concentrations and career paths, and to the January Career Laboratory, a winter break program that allows students to network with alums and explore post-graduation options.

Administrators need to ensure that “student voices are heard” in the process of improving alums’ role in the internship search, said UCS President Todd Harris ’14.5.

“As soon as we walk through these gates, we have this support group we can tap into,” Harris said. “The alumni base shouldn’t be something that students are only part of after we leave.”

Students said the University should work to connect them with internships that complement their classroom learning.

“Internship services should be such that reflect the values and identity of the community,” Harris said.

While the University provides internship support services to students, CareerLAB wants to “ramp up” these resources, Simmons said.

The strategic plan outlined key goals in expanding internship support services, Simmons said, adding that the CareerLAB has started to work to achieve these goals by collecting data on students’ past internship experiences and by reaching out to alums to convince them to participate in CareerLAB events.

Providing greater financial support to students seeking low-paid or unpaid internships stands out as a goal of the strategic plan’s section on internships.

“We need to start considering who can afford to work for free” during the summer, Ybarra said. “An internship experience should be such that every student thinks about how they will develop and grow rather than how they would profit financially from it.”

Student feedback to the Committee on Educational Innovation indicated that many students in creative arts think formalized internship support services are inadequate for their needs, Ybarra said.

Some students said widening support services for internships in the creative arts needed to be a priority.

“There wasn’t enough of a variety of opportunities in the arts,” said Anna Kate Kingston ’15, adding that she used CareerLAB’s Job and Internship Board to search for an interior design internship, but found that most listed opportunities were related to business and computer science fields.

Administrators said they will also work to widen the range of internship opportunities available in areas where current resources are lacking, such as the arts.

“We have such a broad palate of skills and knowledge here, and we need more opportunities to use this,” Simmons said.

3 Comments

  1. brown parent says:

    Thats a smart move on behalf of Brown to increase the resources of alumni to help students find summer internships and ultimately jobs! Hope more and more alumni will come to campus to recruit.

  2. “hey these kids want us to divest from coal. ha!”
    “let’s help them consolidate their privilege a little more and then they’ll shut up.”
    -the brown corporation

  3. adamaleonard says:

    For students looking for local internships, I’d recommend checking out http://www.bridge.jobs (RI-only internship board)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*