Global Virtual Internships

October 09, 2020

To support meaningful internship experiences for Columbia students in spite of the atypical circumstances of lockdowns and disruptions caused by Covid-19, the network of nine Columbia Global Centers launched the inaugural Global Virtual Internship program this summer with over 150 opportunities in a host of partner organizations around the world.  The Mumbai Center received more than 100 applications and placed 14 undergraduate and graduate interns in areas of work ranging from sustainable engineering solutions, arts and culture, public health, and urban biodiversity.

The interns were engaged in diverse private and non-profit industries where their roles exposed them to different facets of the organizations’ research, documentation, marketing, outreach and execution activities.  Five interns were placed as Urban Works Fellows in two of the winning startup teams of this year’s Urban Works Innovation Challenge that the Center runs in partnership with the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. 

The Center conducted an online orientation session on July 1, 2020 to welcome the cohort of students that were placed through the Mumbai Center. The session covered familiarizing the students with the structure of the internship program, their responsibilities, avenues of support available to them through the Center, and guidelines on the best practices for working virtually. All internships ran through summer and were completed around the start of the Fall semester in early September.  

The reception of this internship program by students was overwhelmingly positive as gauged from evaluation forms collected at the end of the summer, and almost all the interns said that they would recommend the program to other students and would be interested in taking up virtual internships of this nature in the future as well.  Jiyoon Moon, who was an intern with the Center’s Sunder Nursery Project with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in India, remarked, “As a freshly declared Urban Studies major, hearing the story and details behind the project was exciting and inspiring, and I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.” 

To bring the internship program to a formal end and also reflect on past summer, the Global Centers organized a Virtual Global Internships Forum on “The Future of Work: How Will the Pandemic Change Career Opportunities and Strategies?” on September 15, 2020.  The session was moderated by Professor Safwan Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University.  Professor Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President at the Office of University Life, delivered the opening remarks and Professor Jason Wingard, Dean Emeritus at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, was the keynote speaker.  Three student speakers shared their experiences as interns over the summer and a new Global Virtual Internship website created by interns was also presented.  

Following the success of the Global Virtual Internship program over the summer, a new wave of internships available to Columbia students in the Fall semester were also announced that will run from October to December, 2020.