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Commonwealth Innovative Internship Fund and Program

Overview: In 2018, the Virginia General Assembly appropriated funding to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to stimulate public colleges and universities to develop partnerships to provide innovative paid internship opportunities for their students. In 2019, the effort was expanded and enacted into law as the Innovative Internship Fund and Program.

Purpose: The purpose of the program is to expand paid and credit-bearing student internships and other work-based learning opportunities in collabora¬tion with Virginia employers. The program comprises institutional grants and a state¬wide initiative to facilitate the readiness of students, employers and institutions of higher education to participate in internship and other work-based learning opportunities.

Statewide Initiatives

In August 2020, six work groups were formed. Members are volunteers from public and private institutions of higher education and state agencies. Click on the work group title for more detailed information and resources for each group:

  1. EMPLOYER TOOLKIT:  Collaborate with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation to produce a toolkit for employers who want to start an evidence-based internship program. Existing toolkits will be evaluated and adapted, combined, and revised for Virginia employers. Best practices for virtual, remote internships will be a feature of this resource. In the future, this toolkit will be used as the basis for training modules to be co-taught regionally by higher education institution personnel and employers who have successful internship programs. Employers who complete the training will be certified as “internship ready” and be eligible for incentives related to work-based learning (this concept is modeled on the Virginia Values Veterans program).

  2. VIRTUAL WORK-BASED EXPERIENCES: Share information about virtual internship models and other approaches for remote delivery of work-based experiential learning; contribute best practices to the Employer Toolkit work group (above); design training session for employers and institutions regarding best practices for virtual experiential learning.

  3. STUDENT READINESS: Gather, validate and share existing materials developed by institutions to prepare students for the internship experience and to support students during an internship. Materials collected will include pre-internship workshop and seminar resources as well as curricula for credit and non-credit courses designed to coach and support students during an internship. Materials to prepare and support students in remote and virtual experiences will be sought or developed. Finally, establish minimum criteria for students to be certified as “internship ready” and thereby potentially eligible for monetary support to participate in an internship.

  4. PRE-INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCES: Design a new type of work-based experience for freshmen and sophomores that focuses on professional skills needed in the workplace, rather than learning outcomes associated with a specific degree program.

  5. TECHNOLOGY: Discuss and document current use of technology to (i) connect employers and students, (ii) deliver online preparation and support to students before and during an internship, (iii) facilitate remote/virtual work-based learning, (iv) collect data on student participation in work-based learning, and (v) track progress (including tracking employers who are certified as internship ready). Recommend technology needed. Determine baseline and recommend targets for the statewide initiative.

  6. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Gather, validate and share existing professional development materials that support personnel at all levels of institutions who facilitate internships and other work-based learning experiences, including faculty, program-, school- and department-level staff, and career services personnel. Identify gaps, collaborate with the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers professional development committee, recommend action to fill the gaps and expand resources.

Grants to Institutions

Round 3 Call for Proposals

Institutional Readiness: Internship and Work-Based Learning

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