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career immersion program student and man working on a work bench
Computer information systems major Zayvien Jones works on a project with a NetCOM Div27 mentor during the 2023 Career Immersion Program.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
— Benjamin Franklin

By Darryl E. Owens

Channeling wise words from Ben Franklin, 23 Beacon College students in May were involved in learning career skills and exploring the workaday world through on-the-job during short-term internships with Central Florida employers as part of the revamped 2023 Beacon College Career Immersion Program (CIP).

From May 8 through May 26, sophomores and juniors served 15-day internships aligned with their majors at eight local external businesses and nonprofit organizations. CIP interns majored in anthrozoology (26%), business management (9%), business management/hospitality (4%), computer information systems (17%), computer information systems/ web and digital media (31%), human services (4%), and humanities (9%).

Program partners included: Cat Protection Society; Chase Rescue Sanctuary; Fistbump Media, Inc.; Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter; Leesburg Historical Society & Museum; Leesburg Center for the Arts; PowerOne (and supporting partners NetCOM Div27 and Data Graphics); The Brownwood Hotel and Spa. CIP also created a dual partnership between Beacon College Career Center and Think In Print Store in which web and digital media majors developed print collateral the Career Center needs for exhibits at national conferences to cultivate new partnerships for Beacon College internships and early careers for Beacon graduates.

Launched in 2020, CIP was a pandemic baby. Beacon students must accrue at least 80 hours of internship experience to graduate. However, travel restrictions, quarantines, and limited internships — leading companies such as AirBnb, FedEx, Gap and Walt Disney Co. suspended summer programs due to the outbreak — left students in the lurch. So, Beacon’s career development team conceived an on-campus alternative.

Originally, CIP was structured to provide a walkable, experiential learning opportunity for up to 35 students to complete 30 to 40-hour internships outside of the traditional school year by supporting campus departments and college staff.

However, the Beacon College Jones Center for Career Preparation team reimagined CIP for the 2023.

The idea: provide students a more authentic workplace and early career experience.

The team whittled down participant numbers to create a more meaningful, robust program. To foster a professionalism, students donned CIP-branded polo shirts. Participants attended pre-launch professional learning workshops and networking events. They served on a community impact project. And they put in full workdays (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), including roundtrip daily travel — which the College provided. As revised, CIP students were able to satisfy the 80-hour internship graduation requirement in one rotation.

With the new focus on matching internships to majors, students gained invaluable industry-aligned experience.

Anthrozoology majors designed and built safe housing and activity structures for endangered species such as ruffed lemurs at Chase Rescue Sanctuary. They also worked on its physical infrastructure to benefit other international species. Web and digital media students created content and photography for its website, developed and designed care sheets for Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises, and supported the sanctuary’s social media.

Humanities majors helped the Leesburg Historical Society & Museum build or improve exhibits. A human services major helped develop ways to better connect the museum with diverse community interest. And a web and digital media major helped design and launch the museum’s new website, blending history with modern technology.

Meanwhile, at The Brownwood Hotel & Spa, intern James McIntyre learned the lodging business from A to Z rotating through stints at the front desk/receipt, group sales, housekeeping, restaurant/dining services, and maintenance during his 12-day stint.