Corin Shields records Erin Chambers for a Beacon Quick Flick as she demonstrates features on the MyBeacon app.
Corin Shields stood behind a tripod adjusting the viewfinder of his Canon camera, slowly twisting the lens.
He peered into the eyecup. Then, another slow whirl of the lens. And another peek into the eyecup.
With that, Shields shot his boss a look. His boss gave him a knowing nod.
It was carpe diem after that for Shields.
“Beacon Quick Flicks. Three, two, one. Rolling!”
Watch out, Ken Burns!
Shields’ turn behind the camera came with his stint with the college’s Institutional Advancement and Communications division as part of the inaugural summer Career Immersion Program (CIP). The on-campus experience provided 32 students two-week internships including 30 hours of on-the-job experience.
CIP was the offspring of the coronavirus pandemic. Faced with travel restrictions, quarantines, and a sagging economy hundreds of companies including AirBnb, FedEx, Gap and Walt Disney Co. cancelled their summer programs, according to COVINTERN, an online database tracking internship cancellations. By mid-June, 50 percent of all U.S. internship openings had been slashed since the pandemic outbreak, according to research by Glassdoor, the career website.
Internship hours are a graduation requirement at Beacon College, America’s first accredited baccalaureate institution dedicated to educating neurodiverse students. To ensure students wouldn’t lose ground through no fault of their own, the college’s career development administrators quickly acted to create a Plan B.
“We had very little time to create the program,” said Theresa Elliott, director of the Boven Career Development Center, “but a strong team effort by the career center and the entire campus community made a huge difference. It was imperative to place students in meaningful internship experiences. Beacon departments responded swiftly and did an extraordinary job channeling the students’ talents.”
Unlike many of the students for whom the career center found on-campus internships, Shields found his perfect fit by networking. Indeed, the senior web and digital media major from Davis, Calif. parlayed his hobby of filming and editing short films and videos into a critical role with the Office of College Communications. Shields supported its COVID-19 communications through the launch of the college’s new Beacon Quick Flicks series and filmed and edited segments for the new “A World of Difference” television program.
“The Career Immersion Program was very worthwhile to me because I got the opportunity to work and interact with the director of communications,” Shields said. “I was also given the opportunity to provide Beacon College with some outstanding postproduction skills. The Career Immersive Program was a great experience for students who need internship hours to graduate from Beacon College.”
Besides the 30-hour practicum internship, CIP included 10 career-building seminars, three corporate visits (two of them via Zoom), and one on-site visit by a CEO from a local insurance company. Students also participated in a “Shark Tank”-style competition in which students developed strong soft skills defending their venture-projects before the judges.
“It was incredible to see the students negotiating with such ferocity a stake in their imaginary companies” said Jim Borden, a Beacon community educator and one of the judges.
And students saw the value.
The Boven Career Development Center conducted a post-program survey that found that 83.34 percent of participants were “very satisfied” or “satisfied with CIP, said Esteban Lopez, director of corporate and academic outreach, and a team leader on the project. Additionally, 66.67 percent said CIP gave them a significant confidence boost.
“We definitely have a winner,” Marlene O’Toole, director of collegiate transitions, said of the program. “We can only do better next year. We’ll market the program earlier, bring in more students, expand the internship hours from 30 to 40 and solidify the program DNA with an eye on the future.”
In the short term, CIP students transitioned into fall classes “extremely motivated and with momentum going their way,” said Dr. Melody Duckins, resident career coach. “Ultimately, this will translate into a fast start and better grades down the road.”
The Boven Career Development Center will be monitoring grades the first CIP class to measure improvements throughout the semester.