Partnering to Develop Better Internship Experiences Description

(Note: Jacob Somervell, chair of the Math and Computer Science department at UVA Wise, is a co-principle investigator on this project.)

The project Partnering to Develop Better Internship Experiences has two activities that will better support computing students as they seek internship opportunities with Virginia companies.

Our first activity will create learning materials for students who are early in their careers that will focus on practical skills and tools that are important when doing software development in an industry setting. Under supervision of faculty, experienced students will develop learning materials that could be offered as a stand-alone course, as on-line exercises, or as materials that could supplement a regular college course. Students from both UVA and UVA College at Wise will collaborate to make sure the materials can be generally used by as many students as possible. In Fall 2020 these materials will be offered at both universities. We will also explore how best to package and deliver these learning resources for use by students at other Virginia universities.

Our second activity will explore how companies can best offer “virtual” internship experiences, i.e. where a small group of students work on campus for a company that is not located nearby. UVA Wise has had a very successful experience like this with a cybersecurity company located in Northern Virginia. UVA Wise is interested in expanding such opportunities, and some of UVA's corporate partners are interested in a similar arrangement with students in Charlottesville. We will identify best-practices based on UVA Wise’s experience, also using inputs from both universities’ corporate partners. These will be documented, used to establish new internship relationships at both campuses, and distributed as guidance for other Virginia universities and their corporate partners.The results of these activities will be valuable for other educational institutions in the state.

The project will directly address ways of improving internship participation by computing students in Virginia from under-served and underrepresented populations. The results will benefit students who might be at a disadvantage when seeking internships because of their location, their background or their experiences.

This project is supported by a grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) through its Commonwealth Innovative Internship Fund grant program.