Developing Social Emotional Learning Competencies Through Virtual Internships

Developing Social Emotional Learning Competencies Through Virtual Internships

Daniel Basil Kerr (St. Joseph's College, USA) and Tom Gore (Kaya Responsible Travel, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6728-9.ch014
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This chapter explores the experiences of four virtual interns working with organizations tackling social issues in Ecuador, Morocco, South Africa, and Vietnam. These internships provided a unique opportunity to develop and apply the social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD) competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Schlossberg's transition theory provides a framework for transitioning to another culture and cultural mapping is used as a tool to identify, plan, and mitigate differences in cultural orientations between interns and colleagues in their host countries. The chapter draws upon student narratives and reflections, and supervisor feedback to capture what they learned and the challenges they faced as they completed their virtual internships. The results contribute to the literature related to the development of SEAD competencies through virtual internships for high school and college students.
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The Impact Of The Covid-19 Pandemic On The International Internship Market

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many industries worldwide, with nearly every organization seeing the pandemic's impact on their business operations in one way or another. Many businesses experienced adverse effects from the pandemic due to disrupted business operations, demand for products, and supply chains worldwide. Many businesses have experience reduced demand for their services, lowering revenues, net incomes, and the businesses' overall financial condition (Elleby et al., 2020). The pandemic has disrupted lives, businesses, economic health and pushed the healthcare system to its limits. “The economic crisis is unprecedented in its scale: the pandemic has created a demand shock, a supply shock, and a financial shock all at once” (Bauer, 2020).

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Internship market had been a growing field over the past few years. Especially in the US, over the past few years an increasing number of students have been looking to join international internships in a variety of different fields to gain practical experience. More and more colleges in the US have also been encouraging and/or requiring students to join international internship placements, so that they can gain practical experience to complement their studies also grow through working in a new cultural setting.

Students from some colleges in the US are also able to gain academic credit for doing an internship abroad, so this is another factor for increased interest in this area. That, coupled with increasing host communities requesting interns with experience in a specific area, has resulted in more companies moving into the International Internship market.

With travel coming to a standstill in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the proceeding months have seen many international internship organizations trying to move their programs online. Some organizations have not been able to adapt to this sudden change, and 2020 has seen some of them go out of business as a result. Perhaps the biggest example of was this was STA Travel, as an organization that offered various types of travel experiences, including both international internship and volunteer programs to customers, and the ability to book flights through them. Because of their dependence on in-person travel and offering flights in particular, the business went into insolvency in August 2020, only a few months after the pandemic began.

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