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- Are virtual internships as valuable as on-site ones? The experts weigh in with a resounding “Yes”
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With a mission to help students develop their professional identities, it’s no secret that students are at the center of everything the Hub does. In fact, students are integrated into the Hub in more ways than one; our student intern staff and the Student Advisory Team (SAT) both provide critical support to the planning and execution of many Hub initiatives. Without them, the Hub would not be able to complete its mission.
First established in 2016, the Hub’s student staff program, or more commonly known as a team of Hub interns, has gone through many iterations but the core objective has remained the same these last five years: channeling student staff support into always-on career support for all LSA students (+18,000) in a hospitable, professional, and dynamic way.
“We’ve had 38 interns total throughout the years, and that’s because many of our interns stay on for years,” says Mariana Naddaf, the Assistant Director of Coaching and Outreach. As the original architect of the program, Mariana laid the groundwork that has opened a space (both figuratively and literally) for LSA students to integrate seamlessly into the Hub’s work.
Caroline McFadden, the Assistant Director of Hub Operations and current supervisor of the Hub’s student staff program, explains that this is an experience where students “walk away knowing more and being a better professional; they learn how to apply all these key concepts in a workplace and not just in an academic setting.
”These experiences have an enduring impact on our student staff, many of whom have stayed on with the Hub throughout their collegiate journey. One such intern is Antonio Gaeta, who joined the Hub in the fall of 2018 through the Sociological Opportunities for Undergraduate Leaders (SOUL) program. Three years later, Antonio has had the opportunity to helm many of his own projects, including the recent launch of LSA Connect, the college’s career networking and mentoring program.
“It was rewarding to create the programming and watch it the whole way through and hopefully be able to adjust it for the next iteration,” he says. Following graduation, Antonio will be attending the university’s School of Social Work for his MSW, and he credits his time at the Hub for “increasing my desire to study higher education in graduate school.”
For Liz Hoornstra, another graduating senior who has spent two years with the Hub, her roles as a Coaching Services and Information Services Intern have helped her cultivate new marketable skills.
“I never considered myself a creative person; however, I have been able to discover that creativity is not limited to art. I can be creative in the proposed recommendations for how to change a process, in ways I see the Hub addressing student needs, and in coming up with new resources for students.”
Founded in 2018, the Student Advisory Team (SAT) is a unique initiative that brings 30 to 35 LSA students (all applicants) to provide timely, specific, and honest feedback that helps shape the Hub’s programs, services, and communications. Like a company’s board of directors, SAT students share insights and ideas about how the Hub can effectively work with students, a process which also helps them develop professionally. Ultimately, their contributions have the power to impact the rest of the college’s 18,000-plus students.
With diverse representation across genders, race, school year, majors and more, they also double as Hub ambassadors, spreading the word about the Hub and upcoming ‘happenings’ to the rest of the student body via word-of-mouth, targeted emails, and social media content. Compared to other advisory boards on campus, a member of SAT functions as “both an ambassador for the Hub and an advisor to the Hub; usually it’s just one or the other” adds Mariana Naddaf.
Sam Kaser, a graduate student intern at the Hub, has had the privilege of coordinating SAT efforts the last two years and describes them as being “arguably our largest touchpoint on the pulse for undergraduate students, so it’s crucial to the work that we do.”
Our students, whether interns or SAT members, are the driving force behind many projects and initiatives, while also providing the necessary support that makes the Hub work. Above all, Sam emphasizes that “the Hub has created an environment and culture where you feel comfortable advocating for yourself and connecting with everyone in the organization.”