13:47 PM

International students at UHCL get critical internship experience virtually

During the spring 2020 semester, international students attending American colleges and universities found themselves in a strange state of limbo due to closures to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The campus as well as much of the surrounding community remains closed, but international students who were hoping to score summer internships have been in luck, despite the challenges of home quarantine.

The Global Learning and Strategy Summer Institute 2020, offered in collaboration with UH-Clear Lake’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, and the Office of Human Resources, has ensured that international students who were counting on adding an internship to build up their resumes can still have those critical, hands-on work experiences even if they must stay at home. Gigi Do, assistant vice president of global learning strategy and senior international officer said, “We are providing international students the opportunity to participate in an intensive, virtual international student institute for the summer 2020 semester. Through defined learning goals, 60 students will identify learning objectives to complete during the institute.”

Do said that these virtual, compensated internships, which began June 1 and will continue through the end of July, were a unique, innovative way to support international students through the COVID-19 disruption. “We are still able to give them an excellent virtual internship experience with 10 employers who are both global and local partners.”

She said students were interning with a range of employers, including Texas International Education Consortium, Clemson University, Southern University Shreveport Louisiana, Memorial Hermann Medical Center, Arkansas State University, the Vietnam Education Fund, and Foster Global Immigration law firm.

“Our students can have the internships they need to strengthen their competitiveness in the job market,” Do said. “It’s more than just being placed with these employers. We mandate that students attend our Human Resources professional development webinars, use our Office of Career Services and our Writing Center to strengthen their writing skills. They will have a very full 10 weeks with us this summer.”

She added, “I know of no other American college or university that is offering this kind of virtual internship experience with pay for international students in this time of crisis.” As an added bonus, she said these internships were offered in the form of scholarships so it qualifies students for in-state tuition next year.

“We have gone to a great extent to support our international student population, which is vulnerable right now. They face financial hardships and an economic crisis that is affecting their ability to survive here,” she said. “This vulnerability was recognized by (UHCL President) Ira K. Blake, who is the visionary behind this. Students will be able to get their internships and have the opportunities they need to complete their studies at UHCL.”

“UH-Clear Lake is a global university. To better serve in the world, we create opportunities for our international students that will increase their competitiveness in the workplace,” Blake said. “Every UH-Clear Lake student will be global-ready, with the needed tools for success. That toolkit includes career-relevant internships, which result in our graduates being competent, competitive, and confident along their career paths.”

Blake added that employers everywhere understand the value added of global skills and inclusive experiences on their organization’s bottom line. “The fact that these internships are happening in the midst of a pandemic demonstrates that our students are adaptable, resilient, and can succeed no matter how challenging the circumstances,” she said.

Students in the institute are sophomores, juniors, seniors or second-year graduate students. “This is a great opportunity for international students to explore potential careers by putting their skills to work in a mentored, real-world setting,” Do said.

Learn more about UHCL’s Global Learning and Strategy program online.