After their successful launch in response to the pandemic last year, two internship programs will return this summer, Western has announced.
Together, the Western Summer 2021 Student Internship and the Undergraduate Student Research Internship programs will offer 16-week placements for up to 400 students from May 1 to Aug. 31 with $7,500 compensation.
Western Summer 2021 Student Internship program
Last year’s program was highly successful in providing students with summer jobs and faculty with help in the transition to remote learning.
Students helped build OWL course sites, edit and caption lecture material, develop assessments, and create instructional videos. Their efforts earned high marks in both course and learning support evaluations.
“An unexpected benefit of engaging students in course development last year was a shift in faculty efforts to more student-centred learning,” said John Doerksen, vice-provost, academic programs. “Because of the overwhelming positive feedback, we are pleased to continue the students-as-partners model this year.”
Western has allocated $500,000 to faculties to recruit up to 100 students to help enhance online offerings and blended learning. Faculties are communicating application details directly to their students.
Undergraduate Student Research Internships program
The university has committed $2-million to this year’s USRI program, led by Western Research in collaboration with Student Experience and Western Libraries, with more than 300 placements available.
This was welcome news for Nicole Campbell, PhD, assistant professor in physiology and pharmacology and director of Interdisciplinary medical sciences programs at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
“There’s an appetite for this kind of work,” said Campbell, noting the immediate and enthusiastic response she has received from students since announcing the program’s return.
While the internships address a growing demand for undergraduate research opportunities, they also benefit faculty whose work falls outside the areas funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada or by dean’s research awards, Campbell said.
“For someone like me, whose research is more focused on educational initiatives, it’s harder to fit into some of those categories,” she said. “That’s why I get excited about this program, because of what it offers both students and researchers.”
Last summer, Campbell mentored USRI intern Cameron Hick.
“When I got the position with Dr. Campbell, it was my first exposure to research and I was kind of nervous,“ said Hick, who is now in her final year of medical sciences. “But it was a wonderful experience. I expanded my research skill set and gained a lot of other transferable knowledge, all while working from home safely during COVID.”
Hick learned how to analyze data qualitatively to serve as second reviewer of a paper on the educational “escape box” Campbell created to teach students about teamwork.
Hick also helped develop an open-access resource guide for students navigating online learning and meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Campbell appreciated the research and teaching support in a year that brought many challenges.
“Cameron was phenomenal,” Campbell said. “The USRI program opened up doors for me, for her and for our students.”
This year’s USRI program will include sessions related to scholarly writing, literature reviews, knowledge exchange, best practices in publishing, and issues of equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonialization.
“I was so happy to see they have enhanced the program,” Campbell said. “I got lucky in the sense that Cameron came with so many of those skills already. Not all students have those abilities, but they can develop them. With more structure the program is going to be even more successful.”
Hick, who begins the masters program in interdisciplinary medical sciences in May, said Campbell’s mentorship was the most positive aspect of the program, and left a lasting impression that helped shape her future.
“Before this experience, I was hesitant to apply to graduate school. I was unsure of what my path would be. But this experience, and really getting to know and learn from Dr. Campbell, showed me it is not as scary or as unattainable as I previously thought.”
Students and faculty looking to learn more about the URSI program should contact their associate deans (research).