GCC Case Study: Atlanta as a Global Hub: Designing for Internship Inclusion and Innovation
Editor: During the 2021 Diversity Abroad Global Inclusion Conference GCC Co-Founder Kate Moore participated in a panel titled “Atlanta as a Global Hub: Designing for Internship Inclusion and Innovation”. The group discussed collaboration on Emory’s 2020 Global Internship Program, its pivot pilot, and takeaways for intentional program design. Read her comments below that built upon presentations by colleagues at – and alumni of – Emory University.
Global Career Center
“…I am thrilled to share the perspective of a program partner (or provider) organization and will aim to include lessons learned and surprises celebrated while highlighting program models and student support as well as approaches to portfolio building.
Within the Global Career Center mission, I do want to emphasize partnership based on customization. Our team focuses on program design that is nimble, responsive, and intentional as we collaborate with university partners to develop high-touch, high-impact applied learning experiences that connect education and employability.
Atlanta as a Global Hub Program is an ideal case study.
We are all very proud of this program, not just because it was the first time that we used the term “Pivot Pilot” but also because of the layers of partnership. This includes multiple departments within the university, alumni, organizations across Atlanta, a global network, and – most importantly – students.
Students were in on the pivot. They were our partners in co-creating the pilot. They provided the most meaningful surprises and lessons from the program.
Let’s consider how those lessons learned and surprises celebrated from this program can link to the work all of us do. What can we take forward from this experience? As individuals, for future iterations, and – as we at GCC are very fortunate to do in our work – with a range of educational institutions?
Specific to this 2020 program, a surprise – or unexpected opportunity – was the inclusion of very current and challenging discussions around race, identity, equity, and justice. The panels on Race and Identity in the Workplace were not on the schedule at the start of the summer. These were added in response to real world events. I am reminded of Adam Grant’s book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What you Don’t Know and his (admittedly) imperfect practice in leaving a percentage of each course syllabus as TBD. It can be daunting, but do allow for – or be forced into – responsiveness and relevance.
Again, specific to this 2020 program, a lesson learned (or relearned) was the importance of connection to combat isolation. Students would show up at optional meetings to have conversations that stretched beyond their family or their roommates or their pets (although those pets participated in the program as well!). At GCC, weekly meet ups and office hours are now and will remain a staple on the calendar – open to all current, past, and future students. This is part of a range of structured program activities and feedback mechanisms to encourage informal connection and community building.
When thinking of different program models to highlight, I wanted to share another example of teams as well as another example of a capstone project.
The San Mateo County Community College District Global Virtual Team Internships Programs is offered over the course of each semester, pairing a group of students with a global employer to deliver a professional project while navigating time zones and professional cultures and new skills or content with people you may never meet in person.
This program reinforced a surprise – or unexpected opportunity – with the power of teams. If one student has a difficult week coming up (perhaps obligations at home or work) and needs to adjust their level of engagement, the team has their back. The multidisciplinary approach to teambuilding allows each to bring or discover strengths and interests that complement one another. Work and life experience of students can vary dramatically, and those different perspectives are an opportunity to learn from each other as well as enhance the group project.
With a team, as well as capstone projects, a lesson learned (or re-learned) was strong articulation of a deliverable. We encourage students to update their resumes or LinkedIn profiles during the program, and it is difficult to do so without hitting employability buzzwords – consultancy project, geographically dispersed, team-based collaboration, client-focused, enabled through technology – while providing a link to project deliverables as students show their work.
With a short-term capstone project such as the Emory program or another three-module example with a capstone project, UC Berkeley’s Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, incorporating skills development and career linkages throughout all modules is ideal for program design and holistic delivery. For Atlanta as a Global Hub, I found the research skills workshop through the university library and career center briefings about industry areas particularly empowering for students as they began to plan how to articulate their professional experience.
Moving on to holistic student support, I want to highlight connections and workspace.
A surprise – or unexpected opportunity – were challenges to find new connections or create happenstance in an online environment. This remains a challenge across the board. The challenge is especially acute when students – individually or institutionally – lack social capital or have not been exposed to relevant skills. My favorite book to recommend on this topic is Fisher & Fisher’s “Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations that Expand Student Networks” and will highlight the importance of intentionality with program activities, such as the alumni panels followed by individual career conversations and supported assignments.
Another lesson learned – or relearned – was the importance of workspace. I credit a colleague from University of Auckland for first introducing me to one specific approach. The university realized that students are connecting to online coursework or virtual internships outside of a standard set up. They may be joining via mobile phone on a bus or at home with unreliable internet or in a café with many distractions. One potential solution? Create a virtual internships hub on campus, a co-working space to provide focus and build community as students engage in our new world of work.
Finally, I want to discuss approaches to portfolio building. This can be either the portfolio of program offerings or a portfolio of opportunities and interactions within any program.
A surprise – or unexpected opportunity – came from interns getting to know the city in a different way: as professionals rather than students. Students were able to recognize that local opportunities and regional connections can be related to a global career. Look, this should not have been a surprise to me. It is in the title of the program: Atlanta as a Global Hub. However, having students appreciate this connection was a reminder that global can be local. And GCC would welcome the opportunity to find similar linkages with other cities or regions.
A lesson learned – or relearned – was building a database that reflects the community. Drawing upon DC-based initiatives while I was at American University, for Atlanta we incorporated intentional outreach through Small Business Development Centers, to recipients of Google for Start Ups Black Founders Fund, the Women Export University cohort, and others including co-working space or online initiatives. Regardless of location, we aim to be intentional in employer outreach and support to cultivate a database that reflects the city, the student populations, the future workforce, and changing consumer or client base. That database provides placements, program speakers, and networking contacts for student interns as we build and become part of the community.
In closing, we love Atlanta and are excited to share it with you, as well as the lessons learned, and surprises embraced through this pivot pilot.”
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