In today’s fast-paced and high-tech global economy, new skills are a premium to ensuring our college graduates come out of school ready to be a successful part of the workforce. With applied learning, SUNY strives to provide all students, even those attending online, the opportunity to find experiential education opportunities to make them ready for life after college by connecting them to hands-on experiences. From clinical placements and cooperative education to service learning, volunteerism, student research, international opportunities, and field study, students are becoming prepared to be a part of this very global economy.
The State University of New York was recently held up as the international model of delivering applied learning opportunities for students at this year’s Global Internships Conference, which was hosted by University College-Dublin and attended by more than 400 higher education officials from more than 30 countries.
As director of applied learning at SUNY, I could not be more proud to hear Aden Hayes, executive director of the Foundation for Practical Education, introduce our system-wide initiative as “the most ambitious experiential education undertaking of its kind in the world.”
At that moment and in the important discussions that followed, it became increasingly clear to all in attendance that SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s vision for bringing applied learning to every SUNY degree program is one for universities, colleges, and systems of higher education around the world to aspire to.
There simply is no more effective way to provide students with the skills and global competencies they will need to be successful in today’s workforce than through broad access to experiential opportunities such as internships, apprenticeships, and clinical placements.
Taking this notion a step further, the conference also explored the need for graduates to have knowledge and experiences that teach them about building civic capacity and generate a better understanding of cultures outside of the Unites States, as evidenced by an employer survey conducted by Hart Research Associates. Here again, SUNY is a leader.
In March of last year, Chancellor Zimpher announced SUNY’s participation in Generation Study Abroad, an Institute of International Education (IIE) initiative to mobilize resources and commitments to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad by the end of the decade. SUNY already operates the largest study abroad consortium in the nation, providing students access to nearly 600 program opportunities on every continent.
As SUNY works to increase system-wide participation by at least 25 percent, campuses are expanding their study abroad networks to include more programs, partners, and destinations, offering on-the-job training through international internships at overseas locations and increasing awareness of the opportunities that already exist. Two examples of work being done at SUNY were highlighted at the conference.
Marianna Savoca, career center director at Stony Brook University, provided an overview of a multi-campus initiative that is increasing global awareness among low-income students. With a grant from the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women, the JFEW-SUNY Scholars Program was created in 2011 to increase awareness of global issues with an emphasis on those impacting women. And Amy Benedict, director of career development at SUNY Oneonta, and Internship Coordinator Megan Scrivener told participants how the college was able to offer nine new international internship programs locations in less than one year by partnering with two organizations, Academic Internship Council (AIC) and Connect-123. In addition, SUNY Oneonta student Krystal LaDuc shared her experience as a current intern in Dublin.
A Snapshot of Applied Learning across SUNY is available online. In general, these opportunities include:
Elise is Director of Applied Learning at SUNY System Administration.