How BSU Overcame Accessibility Problems in Internship Programs

In today's competitive job market, internships have become a crucial stepping stone for students to gain practical experience and enhance their employability. However, many students face significant challenges when it comes to finding and participating in internships, particularly those who are first-generation, economically disadvantaged, or have time constraints due to work and other responsibilities. 

Here, we explore these key topics as discussed in a recent interview with Carol Crosby, Associate Director of the Internship Program Office at Bridgewater State University (BSU) in the United States. We will delve into the evolution of internships pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, and post-pandemic, and how Virtual Internships has emerged as a game-changer in providing accessible and impactful internship opportunities for students.


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The Students of Bridgewater State University

BSU, located just 45 minutes from Boston, prides itself on its diverse student population. With approximately 27% students of color and 50% first-generation students, the university serves a unique blend of individuals. Additionally, a significant majority of students (60%) are commuters who often juggle work and school to fund their education. These circumstances make finding internships and gaining practical experience even more challenging.


Navigating the Changing Landscape of Internships

The internship landscape has evolved over time, with distinct challenges arising in each phase. Pre-pandemic, students were encouraged to seek local or regional internships, but time constraints often limited their options. The pandemic further exacerbated these challenges, as travel restrictions and remote work became the norm. 

Having been let down by previous companies when seeking internships, and struggling with scarcity and availability of viable, enriching opportunities, BSU came across Virtual Internships.


Finding a Solution with Virtual Internships

In the face of pandemic-related challenges in securing internships, Carol was determined to find innovative solutions. It was at a national conference that she stumbled upon Virtual Internships, a program that she immediately recognized as having the potential to meet the students' needs. 

Teaming up with Andy Radelet, a representative from Virtual Internships, they embarked on a pilot program that surpassed all expectations. This partnership became the foundation for empowering BSU students and preparing them for the future of work.


Addressing Internship Challenges

Prior to embracing virtual internships, BSU faced various challenges with traditional internships. Students encountered supervisors who disappeared, companies that failed to deliver promised projects, and communication gaps due to language barriers. These issues posed significant setbacks for students, especially those who were first-generation or juggling part-time jobs alongside their studies.

"Virtual Internships really worked hard on clearing those barriers for our students. They are available, they are on time. They also provide coaching, which is wonderful for our students who need to grow their professional skills and have a lot of questions about the workplace." - Carol Crosby, Associate Director and Engagement BSU

Virtual Internships addressed these problems by prioritizing effective communication, ensuring that supervisors remained accessible and responsive. Language barriers were minimized through careful placement, guaranteeing that students could effectively engage with their internships, maximizing their learning experience.


The Transformational Impact of Virtual Internships

The landscape of internships is evolving, demanding innovative solutions to address the needs of today's students. Virtual Internships have emerged as a powerful tool, offering remote and flexible opportunities that cater to students' diverse circumstances. 

Through its partnership with Virtual Internships, BSU has successfully provided students with transformative experiences, unlocking their potential, expanding their horizons, and ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to thrive in their chosen field.

Find out more about partnering with Virtual Internships to give your students an unbeatable advantage by clicking the button below.

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