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Brown U Platform Connects Students to Internships

A survey in 2015 found that those students who serve an internship "enjoy a distinct advantage in the job market" over those who don't. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers in its annual survey of students, about 56.5 percent of students who performed an internship received at least one job offer compared to just 36.5 percent of those with no internship experience.

To help students make connections that will lead to internships, Brown University in Rhode Island is running BrownConnect, a platform that allows alumni and parents who specifically want to work with Brown students to post internship and research opportunities.

"BrownConnect is a direct result of the Building on Distinction strategic plan, which called for increased opportunities for students to bridge theory and practice during their time at Brown," said Aixa Kidd, director of BrownConnect. "President Paxson specifically noted a need for expanded access to summer internships and research experiences and a strengthened undergraduate internship and career advising network. These are all things that BrownConnect provides."

When the program was introduced two years ago, the idea was to give Brown students preferential hiring treatment. The goal then was to have 250 "Bruno Opportunities" available at the launch in 2014. Now there are 700 positions on the site.

As coverage on the school's website reported, sophomore Olivia Sykes, who is concentrating on human health and biology, found an internship in New York City with the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center, a position listed by Jane Martin, a Brown alumna and parent as well as a doctor who runs the cognitive assessment center there. Sykes will be working in neuroscience on clinical trials with Alzheimer's patients.

Her decision to take the position was enhanced when she won a LINK award. The Linking Internships and Knowledge awards, along with Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRA) and summer earnings waivers for students on financial aid are intended to help students cover living and travel expenses related to their internships.

"As I was applying for this internship, I was aware that the stipend was very low, and that was a source of anxiety for me," Sykes said in the article. "So I ended up applying for the LINK. I was awarded a very generous amount of money, and that greatly relieved the pressure. It gave me a chance to do something that wouldn't have normally been accessible."

Students have also landed internships at CNN International in Hong Kong, the United Nations World Food Programme, Kaargo, the National Gallery of Art and the Department of Homeland Security.

For Martin, the doctor at Mount Sinai, finding interns through BrownConnect made a lot of sense. "Brown students are smart, excited and engaged," she said. "We are very happy to have this new relationship with Brown. We really feel a responsibility to mentor the next generation of great researchers and clinicians, and this connection has been really helpful in doing that."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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