Internships: Learning by going (and doing)

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: May 28th, 2021

Among the unique features of EARTH University’s curriculum is the pasantía (internship). For 15 weeks, third-year students leave campus to further hone their professional abilities and facilitate personal growth at a business, nonprofit, or research institution anywhere in the world.

The experience, however, extends beyond those few months outside EARTH. In total, it consists of three parts: the preparation, in which each student begins the process of researching and applying to different places, usually starting in January; the internship, which is the 15 weeks of practical work, usually starting in September; and the post-experience analysis, in which each student critically reflects on – and receives feedback about – the learning that occurred during the previous months.

Because of safety concerns and the travel restrictions enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this beloved experience had to be postponed for EARTH’s Class of 2021. Regardless, the University continued preparing students and remained in contact with their prospective hosts, keeping the doors open for whenever the all-clear would be given.

This month, following a year of uncertainty, 109 students have begun their internships – dispersing to 29 countries.

“This year, we had to do much more logistical work than we were used to,” says Adriana Benavides, Internship Coordinator. “Since many countries are still closed, we had to create alternate routes, so students could arrive in their internship countries without the need for special transit visas. We also had to coordinate PCR tests and work closely with a travel agency to account for each country’s restrictions.”

Several host sites had offered the option to do a virtual internship; however, the decision was made to adhere to the traditional process, pursuant to EARTH’s beliefs in multiculturalism and learning by doing. “This professional experience away from campus is unique, affording each student the time to learn about themselves and their way of working with others,” says Amy Porter, Internship Professor. “It is an indispensable and enriching component of their education.”

Although the students of our Class of 2021 had to navigate delays and schedule modifications, their resilience has now landed them in countries such as the Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa, the USA, Mexico, and more for an internship opportunity that will transform their lives, endowing them with a fuller vision of their careers, deeper knowledge, sharpened skills, and new friendships and mentorships.

This September, third-year students will depart campus to enjoy their own internships – right on schedule.

We wish you all months of robust learning and adventure! ¡Buen viaje!

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