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Workforce Readiness

New College Alliance Hopes to Connect Students with Experiential Learning

With the current atmosphere of hiring freezes and withdrawal of jobs and internships, students are having a hard time getting hands-on experience in the fields for which they're preparing. A new network of colleges and universities is working together to connect students and recent graduates to "meaningful experiential learning opportunities and projects contributed by alumni, families, corporate partners and supporters."

The BridgesAlliance, a project launched by PeopleGrove, already has 42 participating institutions, from Ashford University to Williams College.

Through the alliance, which is free to join, the schools work together to expand the number of opportunities and contacts they have for students. Those schools that commit to the alliance agree to use the PeopleGrove Bridges platform. The company produces software that facilitates connections between students and alumni. The online program allows an institution to attract and publish experiential learning projects offered by members of the college community. Projects run from two weeks to two months. Students who participate also get mentoring from alumni.

In a pilot program this summer with Wellesley College, a founding member of BridgesAlliance, the school committed to having 300 projects in play by July 15.

"We approached PeopleGrove to help us serve current students and class of 2020 graduates facing a challenging job and internship market. Our goal was to fill this gap through skill-building and networking experiences that were short-term and virtual in nature," said Jen Pollard, director of operations and analytics for career education at Wellesley, in a press release. "Bridges has helped us celebrate what makes our community diverse and unique, promote a deeper level of connection and reach record engagement in experiential learning."

"By engaging our rich and diverse network of alumni, we can connect students to meaningful opportunities that will help them build the skills they need to be successful in the workforce of today and tomorrow," added Christian Garcia, associate dean and executive director of the career center at the University of Miami. "We're thrilled to be a part of the BridgesAlliance, and eager to address the pervasive barriers to entering the workforce that today's graduates are facing, particularly those from marginalized communities."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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