The cornerstone of the Transition Program is the internship component. Transition students work two days a week each semester, applying the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to real work situations through an unpaid internship. The internship placements are carefully matched to a student’s interests and aptitudes. In their supervised internship settings, students are exposed to the challenges of the workplace and see the relevance of what they have learned, developing resourcefulness and confidence.
Student placements are in clerical, business, and retail support positions in business, industry, government agencies and educational and health care institutions. Business partners range from small start-up companies to large international businesses. Some companies have been involved since the program began; other new partners are added each year.
Transition’s Internship Coordinators take great care to ensure that the employer/employee relationship is mutually beneficial. A meeting with the student, the Internship Coordinator, and the immediate supervisor at the internship occurs before a contract is signed. That supervisor assumes primary responsibility for providing training and guidance to the student in the work environment. The Internship Coordinator visits the intern on site every second week to provide ongoing guidance and evaluation. In addition, interns receive two formal evaluations, one at mid-term and another at the end of the semester.
Students discuss their internships in weekly seminar classes, and first-year students submit weekly internship journals. Classroom education three days a week, complemented by two days of on-the-job training, helps Transition students reach the goal of improving their abilities to succeed in actual work situations and learn specific job related skills. While the Transition students acquire concepts and skills that can be transferred to many occupations, the host employers cultivate new talent, reap productivity benefits, and bring a sense of social responsibility to their organizations.