A fall 2022 survey from Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse with support from Kaplan found 39 percent of students did not have an internship or experiential learning opportunity while in college. Asked how their colleges did in helping them find an internship, 38 percent of students rated their colleges a C or lower.

Many higher ed professionals are focused on adding internship opportunities and increasing participation. Leaders at Old Dominion University, for example, aim to better connect students with relevant work experience and break down barriers to access through the Monarch Internship and Co-Op Office, centralizing experiential learning opportunities across campus for all learners.

The inspiration: The office, new for this academic year, was born out of Old Dominion’s five-year strategic plan, which set a goal for all students to participate in an internship or other work-based learning opportunity before graduation by 2027.

“It really came to the top that our students—undergrad, graduate or continuing education, our certificate seekers—they really needed to be in meaningful learning experiences before they left our campus,” explains Barbara Blake Gonzalez, executive director of the Monarch Internship and Co-Op Office.

Work-based learning offers students a variety of benefits, including relevant experience in their desired industry, confirmation of their interests and career goals, hands-on application of learned concepts, and a chance to recover skills from pandemic-related learning losses, Blake says. “They are going to walk away feeling prepared, feeling confident, being a very competitive candidate in their future labor market.”

Blake believes the new office is also a way for the university to be innovative and entrepreneurial in meeting student needs. “Internships 10 years ago don’t look like they look today, especially after COVID,” she says. “You have to have an evolved thinking about what do internships look like here.”

Continue reading the full story on insidehighered.com.