Monday, 23 January 2012
Building a Network of Internships for a Diverse Geoscience Community
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Individual, isolated undergraduate internship programs, however effective, aren't sufficient to address the lack of diversity in the geoscience workforce. Rather than competing with each other for a small pool of interested students from historically under-represented groups, REU and internship programs might share recruiting efforts and effective practices and link program activities in order to expand the pool of students interested in geosciences. In this paper, we present examples of these kinds of partnerships and highlight the benefits of such collaborations. In 2010, for example, the SOARS program at UCAR and the RESESS program at UNAVCO shared recruiting websites and advertising. This contributed to an increase in the number of applicants to the RESESS program, the majority of which were from historically under-represented groups. SOARS and RESESS weren't able to accept all qualified applicants, so they shared applications with other REU/internship programs and helped many more well-qualified minority students secure internships. SOARS and RESESS also leveraged their geographic proximity to pool resources on community building activities (including two-days of data-collection and analysis in Rocky Mountain National Park), a weekly writing workshop, and our final poster session. This provided our interns with an expanded network of peers and gave our staff opportunities to work together in planning. Recently, we have reached out to include other programs and agencies in activities for our interns, such as mentoring high-school students, leading outreach to elementary school students, and exposing our interns to geoscience careers and graduate schools. Informal feedback from students suggests that they value these interactions and appreciate learning with interns from partner programs. Through this work, we are building a network of program managers who support one another professionally and share effective strategies. We would like to expand that network, and future plans include a workshop with university partners and an expanded list of REU programs to explore further collaborations.