Tony Brown is the Director of European Internships at Brigham Young University. He teaches about how to make a study abroad experience effective and about a sustainable model for directing internships.
It used to be sort of luxury, you might say, to do an internship before graduating. Now, it’s pretty much considered essential. Employers want to see that a student not only has classroom experience but that they have real world experience working in their preferred profession. And so that’s what the idea of the internship is, to send them out, to give them that kind of real-world experience, and make them marketable for post-graduation. Okay. So now I teach Russian here BYU. And what I wanted to do is to be able to get students in the program and opportunity to be able to apply not only their interest in say medicine or law or whatnot. But I wanted them to be able to do that in the target language, specifically Russian.
The model works this way. I find an in-country director, and that in country director then places students in internships based on their professional interests. And with this type of structure, it’s very malleable. So it’s not like it has to be, you know, one director taking on every country. Rather, there can be multiple directors, and those directors are responsible for students in their respective countries. I’ve had students do everything from electrical engineering, to economics, to nursing, sociology, applied physics. The list goes on and on. Certainly is not limited in any way shape or form to a linguistics based internship. Rather, the language becomes a means to accomplish whatever it is they are wanting to do professionally.
So just want to talk about a couple of students just as examples that have gone out recently. One of those is Aiden Houston. He went out on the program to Riga, Latvia. Aidan did his internship with BaltNews there and had the opportunity actually to ask Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, a question during a press conference. He was right in the thick of that whole experience of being able to see journalism, but I actually do it the same time. A marvelous experience at his internship. Emily Hoskins focused on cancer research and was able to work on some really interesting projects that reflected her interest in cancer research work that she had already started on here at BYU. And now that she’s actually continuing with as a graduate student at Ohio State University. Her internship experience, there are in Lafia, really served as a springboard for being able to move right into a Ph.D program.
Again this model, it’s just a matter of finding in country directors, working with those directors to place students in internships and coordinating efforts with them, which makes doing this type of administrative work from the standpoint of a faculty member at an university doable. Otherwise, if the faculty member is trying to do everything, it’s just not sustainable. So working with these in country directors, having a contractual relationship from semester to semester with them, makes this not only doable but affordable for the students also.