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COVID 19: Safe Return to Internships

Statement for Internship Program

Updated 1-11-21

The staff in the Internship Program Office understands that the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact students' internship plans. We are committed to helping them navigate their internship journey. As a result of the recent University decision that students will take classes remotely for the Spring 2021 semester, the Internship Program Office has made the following provisions:

  • For Spring 2021, students are not allowed to travel outside the State of Massachusetts to participate in an internship.
  • All internship advising will take place as virtual appointments. Students may schedule a virtual appointment through Internships@bridgew.edu or by calling the office at 508-531-2632. Appointments after 5pm are also available on select days of the week.
  • All events and workshops will be virtual.  Our scheduled Spring career fairs will take place virtually.  The Internship Program Office will offer several workshops and webinars virtually on Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
  • There will be no on-campus interviews scheduled by employers.  Many employers will schedule interviews to happen virtually.  The Internship Program Office staff or the employer will contact students individually to make arrangements for their interviews.
  • Employer information sessions will be virtual.  Employers may choose to conduct virtual information sessions, and the Internship Program Office will post announcements about those on the Events Calendar on our website, via social media (Instagram and Twitter) and through BSU Student Announcements.
  • All questions may be directed to Internships@bridgew.edu.  We will monitor email 9am-5pm Monday through Friday.  Questions and requests will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member for response.
  • Internship Resources  provides information to help students navigate the internship search during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • If a student participates in-person at an internship site, they must adhere to current state and local COVID-19 directives, and CDC guidelines.  Students should also be aware of BSU’s Covid-19 Notice of Risk and review BSU’s Student Code of Public Health Training.
  • Sign up for Handshake:  Here’s your tool to search for the latest internships and jobs.  Students may register for virtual employer events, connect with employers and more through Handshake!  Sign up today!

Statement for Faculty Internship Coordinators

Traditionally internships have been conducted in-person at an organization’s workplace.  In a growing number of instances when circumstances preclude an in-person experience, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, internships may be done virtually or remotely with some in-person elements. This document provides guidance to BSU faculty internship coordinators, students, and supervisors at host sites for conducting internships during such times.

Elements of a Well-Coordinated Internship

The internship is a relevant discipline-related supervised work experience that has intentional learning outcomes and goals for students. Our students can benefit greatly by engaging in a well-coordinated and meaningful internship that is carefully planned and monitored by a BSU faculty internship coordinator in collaboration with internal and external partners. 

A well-coordinated internship includes the following elements:

  • The student directly learns from a professional in their intended career field.
  • The student receives regular mentoring through weekly in-person meetings or video conferencing.
  • The internship host site provides educationally enriching projects tied to learning objectives.
  • The internship host site has a mentor who provides quality training, supervision and evaluation.

Internship Guidance During COVID-19

There are times, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional on-site internships cannot be accommodated. The following guidelines apply to such circumstances to allow for the completion of the internship as long as clear safety precautions are in place and all parties agree to adhere to those precautions.  These guidelines reflect key guiding decision making during COVID-19: 

  •  Prioritize the health and safety of every member of our campus community;
  • Protect and support the educational mission to maintain academic excellence;
  • Make decisions grounded in BSU’s values of equity and inclusion;
  •  Provide timely and transparent communication and obtain input from internal and external stakeholders about the proposed reopening plans.

Depending on whether or not a student is pursuing academic credit (regardless if paid or unpaid), the following general guidelines should be followed.  In addition, BSU faculty internship coordinators are strongly encouraged to use the attached Guide for Developing Internship Protocols during Covid-19. 

ACADEMIC CREDIT Internships

This section provides guidance for students engaging in an internship for academic credit. When a significant disruption prevents a traditional on-site internship from taking place, the student should first contact their faculty internship coordinator to discuss options. In some cases, this discussion will include the internship host site supervisor where the internship is scheduled to take place.  Three (3) options are possible: 

Option 1: Convert an in-person internship to a virtual format.
If the internship host site is able to assign remote projects and work responsibilities and provide mentoring through tele-communications, the internship may proceed.  The student, along with the BSU faculty internship coordinator and internship supervisor at the host site, should agree on the alternative arrangements. 

Option 2: Provide alternate approaches to obtain academic credit.
If completing an internship remotely is not an option, the student should contact the BSU faculty internship coordinator to explore alternative learning activities that may be available to substitute for the internship experience. 

Option 3: Defer internship experience until a later date.
If alternative learning opportunities can’t be accommodated, withdrawal from the course might be the only option.  Please note that if the student can’t or is not comfortable continuing in-person (presuming the internship site is open), they should immediately speak with the internship host site supervisor.  If a student is not comfortable participating in an internship experience at this time AND the internship is required for licensure and/or degree completion, the student might need to defer the experience to a later date, which may impact their academic progress in the program and projected graduation date. 

NON-ACADEMIC CREDIT Internships

If the internship is NOT for academic credit, the student and internship host site supervisor should decide on an appropriate course of action.  There are two possible approaches: (1) arrange for remote project-based work, or (2) conclude the internship.  

Please note that a student who is in a paid internship by the internship host site (employer) but not receiving academic credit is considered to be independently employed and should discuss any employment matters related to COVID-19 with their internship host site. BSU is not a party to, and has no control over, a private employment relationship.

COVID-19 Considerations

Should a student participate in-person at an internship site, then adherence to current state and local COVID-19 directives, and CDC guidelines is required.  The student should also be aware of BSU’s Covid-19 Notice of Risk. Also, should such a student elect to continue in-person at the internship host site, it is done at the student's own risk.  BSU has the ability to create remote and/or independent study options for students in lieu of an in-person internship.  Therefore, given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, if a student rejects these internship alternatives, the student has assumed full responsibility for their well-being.  

If additional guidance is needed, please reach out to: 
Diane M. Bell
Director, Internship Program Office
d1bell@bridgew.edu 

Guide for Developing Internship Protocols during COVID-19

This guidance is intended to be a resource for decision making during COVID-19. Completing this protocol will help to ensure the safety and well-being of the BSU community while also supporting successful completion of meaningful and high-quality internships, which include practica, clinical activities and field-based learning.  

All decisions about internships should be consistent with campus, local, state, and national guidelines.  

The questions outlined below present an opportunity for academic departments to collaborate with internal and external partners to expand and develop safe and strong internship experiences that:

  • link academic programs with experiential learning;
  • prepare students for careers;
  • promote inclusivity and access;
  • offer creative options that meet workforce goals and course objectives;
  •  add value to external partners and future employers;
  • help shape future employment landscape; and
  • broaden the university mission through community outreach, engagement and response.

Preparation for Safe Return to Internships

Step 1: In order to effectively guide students and faculty during this unique time, we recommend that internship coordinators/academic departments first confirm that the department is ready to support remote internship options for students.

If a department is unsure, faculty could explore the following:

  • Is the internship a program requirement? If so, how will that requirement be met in this environment?
  • Is the internship subject to external requirements from professional associations and certification/accreditation agencies? Will those requirements still be able to be met in this new environment?

Who has authority over decisions about internship arrangements (e.g. report to work, alternative experience, etc.)? This could be a BSU faculty internship coordinator, the internship host site/employer, government agency, etc.

Which parties (internal, external, university, students) need to be consulted as decisions are made about the internship arrangements?  

Step 2: Once the question around remote internships has been finalized, there are next steps for both remote and face-to-face internship options.

If internships will be remote:

For BSU faculty internship coordinators

  • Are there departmental documents that need to be reviewed or adapted in light of remote internships?
  • What are the approved options? This may include field-based simulations, video analysis, remote projects, virtual practitioner/professional shadowing and much more.
  • What is the plan for consistent and appropriate intern supervision and mentoring?
  • What additional equipment and resources are needed?
  • How will the academic program collaborate with organizations to provide students with the training and access to technology, equipment and supplies needed to work remotely?
  • What are the standards for secure and ethical use of technology?

For internship host sites

  • What additional training and expectations are required for interns?
    • Are the interns able to come to the site at all? If so, under what circumstances?
    • Are there other steps being taken to mitigate risk to self or others?
  • How will interns be welcomed and oriented into your organization
  • What steps will be taken to assure the intern is connected to your organization’s community even if working remotely?

Preparation steps needed if remote internships will be supported

For BSU faculty internship coordinators

  • Contact Dr. Jennifer Sipiora if any departmental documents need to be reviewed.
  • Develop a communication plan. This should include a structured communication chain for relaying information to and from students.
  • Communicate with students to let them know that your department will encourage remote internships.

For internship host sites

  • Identify remote mentoring/supervision approach.
  • Review technology needs for intern to be sure access is in place.
If some or all internships will be face-to-face:

For BSU faculty internship coordinators

  • Are there departmental documents that need to be reviewed or adapted in light of this?
  • What is the plan for consistent and appropriate faculty/staff supervision and mentoring?
  • What additional equipment and resources are needed?

For internship host sites

  • What additional training and expectations might be required for interns working on site?
  • Is there technology training? (new technology skills, ethical use standards)
  • What are expectations for physical distancing on site?
  • What PPE is required and will the site provide it to the intern?
  • What travel restrictions are in place?
  • What daily health reporting is expected?

Preparation steps needed if face to face internships will be supported:

For BSU faculty internship coordinators

  • If the department internships can be defined as “clinical placements,” connect with Dr. Jennifer Sipiora regarding the Affirmation documents. 
  • Determine your communication plan. This should include a structured communication chain for relaying information to and from students.
  • Determine your emergency communication plan. In the event of an outbreak either on campus or at the internship site, what will happen?
  • Identify the educational components you will want your students to complete before starting a face-to-face placement in COVID-19, including review of BSU’s Student Code of Public Health Training
  • Be sure plans are in place for alternative activities in the event an internship has to be moved to remote settings.

For internship host sites

  • Identify remote mentoring/supervision approach.
  • Review technology needs for intern to be sure access is in place.
  • Implement physical distancing and safety requirements for intern workspace.