As universities work to build better bridges between higher education and the world of work, internships and other applied experiences can play an important role. Two related tasks fall to the chair. First, the chair can initiate a discussion within the department about the kind of applied experiences the department needs to encourage for its undergraduate and graduate majors. Because not all students have the flexibility to undertake a full-semester internship, paid or unpaid, this discussion needs to include other options for enriched applied experiences within the discipline. For example, a capstone course or independent study can focus on the application of disciplinary knowledge to a short-term community-based project. Second, as the chair takes the lead in building on the shared interests of the area “communiversity,” internship possibilities in local and regional business are more likely to become available and further lead to employment opportunities for department alumni. The public community is becoming increasingly important to the health of universities. The department chair thus has the responsibility of legitimizing this relationship within the mores of the department culture itself. NIU’s Office of Outreach and Community Resources is a source of up-to-date opportunities in the Northern Illinois region, including a wide range of volunteer activities.
Last Updated: 8/3/2009