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Reverse Internship helps adult students earn degrees

Published on July 29, 2020

Reverse Internship helps adult students earn degrees

Jessica Resto
Jessica Resto ’20 earned her Eastern degree after receiving her last three credits through the Reverse Internship. 

Most college internships offer students a chance to learn something new while in the workplace. This summer, Eastern Connecticut State University offered a twist on the model. Nearly a dozen students participated in a “Reverse Internship,” a unique credit for lifelong learning program.

The initiative, which ran from June 1–July 2, was an intensive online instructional course focused on research and writing designed for adults with five or more years of work experience who are working toward their Eastern degree.

Stanley Beckford
Stanley Beckford, coordinator of Eastern's Groton site, Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning

Students attended WebEx video workshops each evening, learning how to analyze and demonstrate the correlation between their work experiences and their acquisition of teamwork, problem solving and communication skills. They participated in a two-part, in-person workshop and completed three e-workbooks, writing about the college-level learning acquired from their work experiences.    

“The goals of the course were to enhance students’ capability to analyze past work experience and the lessons learned toward developing managerial skills for current and future employment,” said Stanley Beckford, Groton site coordinator in the Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning. “Adult learners are great to teach, coach and mentor because of their vast life experience.”

After graduating this past May, Darrien Williams ’20 moved from Norwich to New Jersey to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work at Montclair State University this fall. She currently works as a therapist at an alternative behavior center for preschool students who have autism. Some of her responsibilities include working one-on-one with the students, implementing student-specific therapy programs and collecting data on student progress.  

Darrien Williams
Darrien Williams ’20 earned Reverse Internship credits through her work as an alternative behavior therapist. 

Williams said the reverse internship was beneficial to her in several ways. “Academically, the program provided me with the opportunity to use what I learned from my work experience to work better with others. I also gained credits and put together a professional portfolio and acquired the skills necessary to be effective in the work environment — tools that I am already applying in my career and in life. Reflecting on my work experience, I realized how critical teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills are.”

“The Reverse Internship presented a great opportunity to complete nine credits, equivalent to three classes in a timely manner,” said Stacey Clark ’20 of Pawcatuck, who majored in General Studies with a concentration in Human Services. “Working and going to school can be challenging. I work as a server at The Lansdowne Pub at Mohegan Sun Casino, and this program offered me an opportunity to work at my own pace to meet course deadlines and to complete graduation requirements quickly. If I didn’t have this option, I would have had to register for another semester. Instead, I was able to save time and money. I would recommend this course to anyone looking to further their educational goals.”  

Jessica Resto ’20 of New London majored in General Studies with a Human Services concentration. She previously worked at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital as a community health worker. Her goal is to become an alternative behavior analyst (ABA) therapist working with children with autism. As a stay-at-home mom of a five-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl, she appreciated the flexible design of the Reverse Internship.    

“The class was the last one I needed to complete my bachelor’s degree. It was very intense. I was very nervous and excited at the same time, but I knew if I worked hard, I would be able to achieve the nine credits I needed,” said Resto. “I found the class of great value. It left no stone unturned. I researched the concepts of teamwork, communication and problem solving — three major components that one absolutely must have to effectively succeed in the work field. Being able to link your work experience to these three essential skills furnishes you with key tools you need to succeed in the workplace. The class was dynamic, beneficial and helpful.”

Bradley Davis
History Professor Bradley Davis served as a faculty reviewer for the Reverse Internship program. 

Bradley Davis, associate professor of history and coordinator of Asian Studies Minor, served as a faculty reviewer of the program. He used a learning rubric to evaluate student workbook entries and learning. “The final assignment was a research portfolio that, in my estimation, gave each student the opportunity to elaborate their experiences in a variety of fields through critical thinking, discursive writing, drafting and revision.”

“The workplace is changing swiftly,” said Indira Petoskey, assistant dean in the Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning. “Acceptance into the Reverse Internship Program demonstrates the determination of individuals to achieve their academic goals and also fits the professional concerns of employers. Eastern is happy to be part of this process.”

Indira Petoskey
Indira Petoskey, assistant dean in the Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning

Credits earned through this program are considered transfer credits only and cannot be used to meet Eastern’s residency requirements. Students still need to complete a minimum of 30 credits of coursework at Eastern for a bachelor’s degree.   

For more information on the Reverse Internship Program, contact Indira Petoskey in the School of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning at petoskeyi@easternct.edu.

Written by Dwight Bachman