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Zero-Credit Internships Can Now Be Documented on Students’ Transcripts

By Joe Garvey

Zero-credit internships are nothing new for Old Dominion University students. But starting this semester, they can appear on their transcripts.

"I believe this will encourage students to pursue opportunities that will contribute to their career development and success," said Beverly Forbes, interim director of Career Development Services, which will administer the program in collaboration with Academic Affairs.

Because these internships provide no academic credit, there is no cost for students. Brian Payne, vice provost for academic affairs, said this enhances ODU's social mobility initiative.

"If you have a student who has no elective hours left in their degree program, and it's clear that an internship would benefit them, essentially what they would have to do is pay for an experience that they don't necessarily need that academic credit for," he said. "That potentially adds debt for the student, or they won't do it because they just can't swing it. We don't want to have policies and procedures that are obstacles or barriers to mobility."

And internships are critically important when students begin job hunting.

"By and large what employers say is that they would take a one-point GPA drop for an internship," Payne said. "I've heard business leaders who have said they've never asked their employees what their GPA is. They ask them: 'What did you do? What can you do?'"

Here's how the program works:

Students must be in good academic standing, and, as with for-credit internships, zero-credit internships must be related to a student's major or minor.

The internship must be at least 10 weeks or 50 hours long.

Students will not have to complete a certain number of credits before doing a zero-credit internship. "This will allow freshmen and sophomores to engage in early career exploration, as well as juniors and seniors," Forbes said.

Students must submit an online application form as well as a position description. That documentation will be routed to a career liaison assigned to the college of the student's major, who will determine whether the requirements have been met. If approval is granted, the student will be authorized to register for UNIV 068: Internship. After the internship, students and supervisors will receive an online evaluation to provide feedback.

The Career Development Services staff is "happy to help students prepare for and seek internships," Forbes said, but students may also seek out internships on their own or do them online, provided they are approved by a career liaison.

In addition to helping students, the program benefits the University.

"This helps us to track who is doing internships and helps us assess what's working and helps us identify other opportunities for internships," Payne said. "In the past, if they were doing noncredit internships, we probably didn't know about it."

Forbes added: "Being able to gather more information regarding the great things our students are doing outside of the classroom to contribute to their career development and success will help us with recruitment."

Payne said he's not aware of any other college or university in the state that is documenting zero-credit internships on transcripts.

"Anything we can do to help our students, as President Broderick says, 'collaborate in the world they're going to live in' is a win for the students and the community," Payne said.

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