Starting summer 2019, Western University will launch an internship program that connects liberal arts students to London’s technology sector.
The liberal arts summer internship program is a four-month paid summer employment opportunity for students enrolled in the faculties of Music, Arts and Humanities, Social Science and Information and Media Studies. Students will receive 0.5 academic credits for completing the internship.
Diana Milanovic, liberal arts internship coordinator at Western, expects the online applications portal on Career Central to become available for registration in October with job postings being available to eligible students starting late fall and into the winter term.
“The purpose is to help connect students to local opportunities as well as potentially non-conventional roles that they might not have hands-on experience with in their degree,” said Milanovic.
Milanovic is currently reaching out to local technology companies to develop summer placements for liberal arts students.
“Students across the four faculties have very diverse skill sets and experiences, but we think that there is a commonality in students’ flexibility in their learning, as well as creative thinking, strong communication skills and problem solving, which would translate really well to the technology sector,” added Milanovic.
Four Western students from the management and organizational studies department took part in a pilot project last summer. Milanovic explained the students worked mostly in marketing roles. Two students were placed at Start.ca, an internet provider service; one student at Polar Imaging Inc., a document management and scanning service; and one student at Orca Intelligence, a transportation management service.
According to Milanovic, the pilot was a success, with one student being offered a longer-term internship at Polar Imaging. She explained students appreciate the opportunity to identify what their likes and dislikes are during their education, rather than after.
“We’re hoping now that we’re opening it up to all the [other] faculties … that we’ll have a much larger response,” said Milanovic.
With over 300 small- to medium-sized technology and digital creative companies in London, the program focuses on the sector to support its growth. Through funding from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, eligible employers receive up to 25 per cent of the intern’s wages as an incentive and reimbursement for hiring student interns. According to Milanovic, approximately 55 internship placements will become available next summer.
Milanovic further explained that there is a growing demand within the technology sector for the soft skills liberal arts students gain during their education.
“This program is in the context of a larger trend in the tech sector of looking to humanities to sort of humanize technology … and bringing the skill sets that those students are learning to their companies,” said Milanovic. “One of the most unique aspects of this program is to help those students see that connection and see how valuable what they’re learning is in the real world.”