Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
As with most universities, interns at Johnson & Wales University have been affected by the pandemic, particularly those in industries such as retail, hospitality, and culinary, which have been hard hit. The career services office is developing solutions that support interns in meeting required internship and course credit hours.
“It is a complex problem,” explains Sheri Young, dean of experiential education and career services at Johnson & Wales.
“We are working with each intern on their individual needs, while balancing those needs to develop a suite of solutions to address the common issues our students are facing.”
Young has reached out to key stakeholders throughout the university to identify acceptable alternatives and viable internship opportunities on campus. She suggests other leaders in career services look to departments such as IT, communications, human resources, and accounting.
“We worked with student academic services to move students into existing online courses as well as to identify a group of courses to open up next week for interns at sites now closed,” Young says.
“For some students at cancelled internships, we worked with other employers to move the student to a new site.”
Young and her team have also built a supplemental internship course to support those students with reduced hours at sites. This course will include reflections and case studies.
“The case studies relate to employers operating in the landscape of a pandemic,” Young explains. “Interns have to describe the situation and determine a response. The exercise uses the current backdrop to boost communication and critical thinking competencies.”
The evolving situation seemingly brings new challenges daily and requires those in the field to be flexible and pivot quickly, Young explains.
“While this is a lot of work, it will be good to have comprehensive plans in place for future circumstances,” she says.
“We had contingency plans in place before this, but nothing that could account for the scope of this situation. The stress that this pandemic is having on our students is enormous. While we may not have all the answers for them right now, we are doing everything we can to make them feel supported.”