Following the November launch of the new internship search and networking site BrownConnect, CareerLAB is planning on unveiling two newer versions of the initiative over the next year, said Aixa Kidd, director of BrownConnect.
In response to student requests, BrownConnect 1.5 will likely launch this spring and include new search tools such as filtering by posting date, Kidd said. BrownConnect 2.0 will be released in the fall.
BrownConnect is part of President Christina Paxson’s P’19 goal of increasing summer internship and job opportunities for all students, which she identified as a priority in her strategic plan, “Building on Distinction.”
Alum and parent outreach is in full force, Kidd said. The 12 alums on the President’s Advisory Council on Internships have been personally reaching out to other alums, encouraging them to post opportunities to BrownConnect and contribute funding so students can get LINK awards, Kidd said.
Other efforts include a “call-to-action email series,” ads in the Brown Alumni Magazine and parent newsletter and promotion on social media and on the University’s website, she added. Postings of Bruno opportunities, which are specially tailored for students by Brown community members, have increased from 23 at the end of October to 170 as of this week.
CareerLAB hopes to have 250 Bruno opportunities posted by the end of this fiscal year, Kidd said. Another goal is to increase LINK award funding, for which fundraising is ongoing, she added.
Students interviewed praised the site’s current design and centralized access to internship, funding and networking opportunities, though they criticized some features.
“It’s really user-friendly,” said Devon Nir ’17. Unlike the “overwhelming” Job and Internship Board, BrownConnect “has made me a lot more comfortable” searching for opportunities, Nir said.
Beyond simple utility, the site may be driving a shift in attitudes about internships, Nir added. “BrownConnect puts this heavier weight on the importance of an internship and how padding your resume is going to advance your standing in the future.”
“Everything is there,” said Samanee Mahbub ’18, adding that “it’s a nicer interface, it’s prettier to look at, it’s not as intimidating” as the JIB. BrownConnect is easier to navigate because instead of going to the separate BRUnet website, everything is in one place, she said.
But the site is not without its flaws, Mahbub said. She was unable to find many internships in her area of interest, business, when reaching out to alums on the site. “I just wish more alumni responded,” she said. “I’m curious how aware they are of this.”
Kristina DeGiovanni ’18 also cited drawbacks such as misfiled listings, a shortage of internships in some geographic locations and the hassle of having to return to the JIB to complete applications. The site could improve by incorporating research opportunities with Brown professors, she said.
A testimonials page featuring success stories from students and alums is in the works following alums’ requests, Kidd said. For now, testimonials will be from students who have received LINK funding in previous years, she said, adding that CareerLAB is also working on a video about an alum and a student whom he employed.
CareerLAB has been promoting BrownConnect to students through its email newsletters and social media, Kidd said. It has also created a video in which Tiffani Scott ’98 encourages students to connect with alums. Additionally, students who work at CareerLAB made a video about BrownConnect that will be released early this semester, Kidd said.