by Kenn Dixon
On any given day at Oakwood University, you will find students on mobile devices, laptops, and desktop computers not for the latest social media video meme, but in search of campus internship and jobs (micro-internships). Yes, job searching without their parents nagging, assisting, or demanding.
Oakwood University’s new Career Connection Center was created to put the experiential learning and career development in one location that connects students to their career passion and guides them to achieve their career goals while maintaining the path to graduation. Career Connection Center’s director Jorge Bartholomew says the micro-internships or microcredentials are designed to permit students to try out their skills in a controlled environment that allows for feedback and development.
What are “micro-internships or microcredentials?”
Micro-internships, according to Mr. Bartholomew, is “an immersive learning experience that will allow students to practice workplace skills to ensure career success.” These include short term assignments to specific projects that require use of real-world skills learned in the classroom. He goes on to say, “Similar to an opportunity that an organization would give to a new hire or intern;” the micro-internship program not only improves student employability skills but also increases college retention and student success.
Educational Design Lab (EDL)
With assistance from Educational Design lab (EDL), Oakwood University’s Career Connection Center (CCC) created the Micro-Internship Program as a component of the University’s Career Pathways’ Initiative (*CPGEM). The goal is development of the whole student not just for the college experience but for success in their careers. The Micro-Internship Program trains supervisors to become developers of workplace competencies and providers of feedback. Learning to receive developmental feedback allows workers to develop emotional intelligence and to improve their workplace performance and also to manage their career trajectory. Students complete a 360-degree feedback instrument during the internship and are supported by both their supervisor and their CCC advisor.
In April 2019, the annual homecoming weekend hosted many professional alumni that provided workshops to current students in areas of career focus. Careers fields ranged from communications to medical and everything in between and beyond. Information shared during breakout workshops, was valuable to students as they matriculate through Oakwood and
prepare to depart into the professional arena. The event was called Alumni 360 and involved reinforcing the micro-internship concept to prepare students for the professional environment.
This introduction added to the practical learning for students as they hear from recent graduates and current professionals in their area of interest.
Digital Badging and its importance
When achievement measurements are vital in the workforce, chronicling accomplishments must be a part of progress gauging; introducing Digital Badging. Digital badging are visual displays or indicators of competencies and achievements a student receives as a result of a performance assessment.
This innovative digital approach for students to earn a toolbox of skills in areas of Initiative, Resilience, Intercultural Fluency, Collaboration, Oral Communication, Creative Problem Solving, Empathy, and Critical Thinking is key to not only career placement but also for college retention. According to Dr. Prudence Pollard, administrator for the CPGEM Career Pathways Initiative, “collecting these eight digital badges are valuable demonstrations to employers of achievement of skills and competencies for the marketplace”. Many of the local businesses in Huntsville, Alabama, seek Oakwood University’s students because of earned skills they acquired and their ability to gain new ones in a short time.