InternShift

In an effort to provide Oregon State University students with the opportunity to acquire workforce experience, OSU faculty members launched an internship pilot program called InternSHIFT.

Clarification: Agilyx Inc. and Chemica Technologies were not originally listed as InternSHIFT's confirmed partners. This has been resolved.

Due to COVID-19, many summer internships were canceled. In an effort to provide Oregon State University students with the opportunity to acquire workforce experience, OSU faculty members launched an internship pilot program called InternSHIFT.

The InternSHIFT initiative is a pilot program that the OSU College of Engineering launched Aug. 3 and will end on Sept. 11, where students will be able to work remotely with engineering industries.

Scott Paja, assistant dean for Experiential Learning & Employer Relations, who introduced the project, said a colleague from Northeastern University working on a National Science Foundation grant to build a platform that facilitates virtual student career experiences, reached out to see if other universities would be interested in creating programs of their own. Paja saw this as an opportunity and presented the project to his team. 

Josefine Fleetwood and Lynn Ekstedt, employer relations managers of the College of Engineering, started working to reach out to employees. Erich White, coordinator of the College of Engineering Career Center also joined the team, and together they have been building InternShift.

“Lynn and I develop a list of target employees to send out the request. It was in response to COVID because we know that so many students have lost internships or internships have been canceled, etc.,” Fleetwood said. “Scott was introduced to this platform and presented it to us, and we figured out a strategy to launch it and create this pilot for this summer.” 

According to Ekstedt, the pilot can provide a really good opportunity for students to spend 10 to 20 hours a week for six weeks working on an industry project and getting some experiential learning and industry exposure. 

“It is a nice small introduction to working in industry,” Ekstedt said. 

InternSHIFT has currently confirmed partners that will help with the pilot, such as Idaho National Laboratory, McMillen Jacobs Associates, TE Connectivity, USNC-Tech, Agilyx, Inc. and Chemica Technologies.

“What we want to do is make it a little more easier for some of our partners to provide students with projects, and make it simpler for students to engage. These are remote experiences, so the student will be working 100% remotely, they won’t have to relocate or worry about social distancing,” Paja said. “Another alternative to a traditional internship, [this is] something that we might be able to scale to a great level and have a lot more opportunities for students to gain experiences.”

Paja said the InternSHIFT team hopes to learn from the pilot and then potentially scale it up for subsequent academic terms and over future summers.

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