Mason Partners with Enstitute to Offer 21st-Century Apprenticeships

Posted: April 24, 2014 at 5:02 am, Last Updated: November 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

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By Sudha Kamath

It’s the newest effort by George Mason University to help students make the crucial connection between college and 21st-century careers.

University Career Services and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences are teaming up to launch a pilot program with the nonprofit Enstitute that would place George Mason students in academically rich apprenticeships in some of the top companies in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. These include tech start-ups and digital media advertisers, as well as nonprofits dealing with conservation, education, policy, social enterprise, social justice and sustainability.

“We are honored to be the first university to partner with Enstitute. With this partnership, we will push the envelope on one of our core strategic plan commitments: to create transformational learning experiences for all students that are collaborative, technology-rich, experiential and problem-based,” says Mason President Ángel Cabrera.

New Century College, an integrative college housed within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is ideally positioned to pilot Enstitute,” says Lisa Gring-Pemble, NCC dean and associate professor. “Our experiential, competency-based curriculum prepares students to address pressing social questions and complex global challenges through innovative and sustainable means.

“By offering students opportunities to apply classroom knowledge in real-world situations, Mason’s partnership with Enstitute provides a means of furthering NCC’s mission to ‘Connect the Classroom to the World. Students in this program will gain invaluable academic and professional experiences, and cultivate lifelong learning skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and group collaboration.”

“We believe in experiential learning and we believe in connecting all our stakeholders,” says Christine Cruzvergara, director, University Career Services. “This new partnership with Enstitute and the college allows University Career Services to activate a critical network in supporting our students in their career exploration and success.”

Launched in 2012, Enstitute is the first national apprenticeship program for 21st-century startups in technology, design, business and social enterprise. “We develop untapped potential in young adults through our ‘learn by doing’ model where they work directly under founders and executives at fast-growing and innovative companies,” explains Shaila Ittycheria, co-founder of Enstitute, which has offices in Washington, D.C. “Through our program, Mason students will build the skills and competencies most relevant for today’s marketplace.”

The pilot program is now accepting applications from rising juniors and seniors across Mason. Twenty students will be selected and matched with local companies this summer. University Career Services and Enstitute will offer a “boot camp” at Mason to help students prepare for their apprenticeships this August.

Students will participate in the apprenticeships this September through August 2015. They will earn 30 academic credits for the full year, including 24 for the on-the-job apprenticeship and supplemental material, and an additional six credits for two courses they will take at Mason in the fall and spring semesters.

Students will build a visual portfolio, practice competencies and skills from their major, reflect on their experience in a learning community, and work under a founder or senior executive to build strong relationships and establish contacts in their field for a more accelerated career path. They will be paid directly by the companies.

Enstitute says Mason’s diversity and location are two of the key factors making Mason a perfect fit for the pilot. Forty percent of Mason students are the first in their families to go to college; 46 percent of Mason’s student population is minority-based. Enstitute credits this as an “amazingly rich demographic.” And Mason is located just outside the nation’s capital, creating access to key opportunities.

For the latest details on the apprenticeships:

Write to Sudha Kamath at skamath@gmu.edu

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