July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Cooperative and Experiential Education
Title: InternSHIFT: Accelerating Opportunity Through Disruption In this evidence-based practice paper, the authors share their experience implementing a technology-enhanced virtual internship model in a four-year public university engineering school. The paper will provide a detailed overview of the context surrounding the implementation of a virtual internship model. Outline the specific virtual internship model and how it addressed an acute need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The model, now established, could be used to scale opportunity and increase access to experiential learning—especially for non-traditional, international, and URM students. Experiential learning programs like internships and capstone projects are high impact practices that allow engineering students to build a professional network, apply technical skills in a real-world context, and develop 21st Century Skills that employers are looking for. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures impacted the entire engineering education ecosystem, particularly internships and experiential learning opportunities. Economists find that entering the workforce in an economic downturn has short-term salary implications and impacts an individual's earning potential throughout their entire career. Cooperative and Experiential Learning helps students build professional network and skills, like teamwork, critical thinking, and communication, that employers are looking for and provide a strategic competitive advantage for job seekers. Virtual opportunities were new to many employers and help to prevent the potential short and long-term effects COVID-19 will have on current students’ career paths. Pre-COVID, the research project that forms the basis for this paper, focused on in-curricular industry engaged capstone projects. However, the scope quickly broadened to include a co-curricular internship model when it became evident that summer internships were severely impacted by social distancing and the economic impact of COVID-19. The virtual internship model was implemented to create an alternative experiential learning opportunity for students. Thus, enabling the continuation of students engineering education and skill development within a socially distanced and economically challenging environment. This paper will systematically highlight challenges implementing this new model within the broader institutional ecosystem and industry partner contexts. The specific issues addressed include: · getting current and new industry partners to understand and adopt a virtual internship model, · negotiating confidentiality, data privacy, and IP issues, · ensuring the model and financial mechanics fit within existing labor laws. The paper will conclude by discussing how this new virtual internship model could be used to scale opportunities and broaden participation in cooperative and experiential education for URM, non-traditional, and international engineering students. Moreover, it will provide recommendations drawn from the authors' experience to help other practitioners implement a similar virtual internship model.
Ekstedt, L. M., & James, N., & Jona, K., & White, E., & Paja, S., & Fleetwood, J. (2021, July), Virtual Internships: Accelerating Opportunity Through Disruption Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38021
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