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CareerLAB aims to offset loss of summer work amid pandemic through BrownConnect Summer Institute

BCSI to offer seven weeks of networking, industry experience, mentorship

With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forcing many summer internships and programs across industries to cancel, a new CareerLab program called the Brown Connect Summer Institute will provide free networking, mentorship and industry experience to students. 

The program, open to any student that completes a short application and registers by May 22, will start June 8 and run for seven weeks, according to Matthew Donato, director of CareerLAB. The BCSI prioritizes flexibility in case students wish to balance participation in the institute with other commitments — as such, students who register for the institute will face no penalty for missing scheduled programming. By guaranteeing admission to all students who register by submitting an application, the institute offers structure to any students who wish to take part.

The BSCI will consist of two modules. The first will last five weeks and feature two daily sessions. In the morning, alumni, parents, University faculty and staff representing a variety of fields will lecture and moderate discussions as part of case studies. The afternoon sessions will consist of skills workshops and conversations with a lecturer, according to the BrownConnect website

“We envisioned this concept of the BrownConnect Summer Institute to provide students with a meaningful and hopefully substantive learning experience,” Donato said. 

Each morning, the case studies will be offered across five broad tracks: “Technology & Engineering, Science & Healthcare, Business & Entrepreneurship, Communications & Creativity, Non-Profit & Public Service.” Students will be able to join whichever track they wish each morning and will not have to register in advance to join a specific session.

“The idea is to be flexible,” said Genine Fidler '77, P'04, P'12, a leader of BCSI and a member of the President's Advisory Council on Internships. “Brown students are not siloed in their interests and ... they want to taste all these different things.” 

Fidler emphasized that there is no requirement to attend a session every day, recognizing that students might register for BCSI to supplement a part-time internship or job, for example. 

The second module of the institute will consist of collaborative projects between students and alumni or parents. Projects have not been specified yet, but examples from the BSCI website included “Editing a movie script” or “Creating a social media presence for a small business.”

Although the BCSI team has not secured a list of alum and parent speakers yet, Andrea Baum '83, P'15, P'18, P'21, another leader of BCSI and member of the PACI, described an encouraging response from alums.

“We’ve tried to use our alumni and parents to bring to bear all the knowledge that they have and teach you guys,” Baum said. “It’s unbelievable, the breadth and the depth of our Brown community.”


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