Student and Program Gain National Recognition for Virtual Corporate International Internship
Lydia Mollerup, a senior marketing major in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, recently won national recognition from the Cooperative Education & Internship Association as the winner of the 2022 Peggy Jarvie International Work Experience Award for her two-month internship through the Virtual Corporate International Internship Program pilot.
Unlimited by traditional geographic boundaries, students like Mollerup engage in virtual cross-cultural learning experiences — collaborating with international NGOs to solve complex global problems and increasing their career-readiness and intercultural competence through projects-based work with international organizations.
The internship pilot program was created to connect 10 current outstanding U of A students to alum abroad for an internship. This national award recognizes distinguished excellence of a student who has completed an international work experience through a Cooperative Education Program, outside of the country they are studying in, in the field of Cooperative Education and Internships.
In honor of her outstanding achievement, Mollerup was awarded a plaque and a $500 monetary award, and will receive formal recognition at the association's annual conference in April.
To further acclaim the success of this collaborative and innovative approach to global learning, Megan Hull, assistant director of study abroad, and Kayla Woessner, program manager and career coach, will represent the U of A at the 2022 CEIA Annual Conference, presenting this work in a session titled Collaboration, Adaptability, and Global Internships: A Case Study.
The pilot program demanded a strong collaborative spirit between Rodolfo Leitón (MBA '97), who is CEO and General Manager of Coamesa in San Jose, Costa Rica, Walton Career Services, Office of Study Abroad & International Exchange, and Academic Programs International (API).
"Business development requires a lot of grit, persistence and optimism," said Leitón. "It is easy to get discouraged because rejection is common. And the pandemic has not made things easier in this endeavor. Lydia was exceptional in this regard; she persisted and went above and beyond what we expected. She even landed an offer from a potential partner to do business with our company, which we are presently evaluating."
Global/Intercultural fluency is identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers as one of the top competencies associated with career readiness. According to NACE research, students who demonstrate the readiness competencies are more prepared for a successful transition into the workplace.
During her two-month virtual corporate international internship, Mollerup focused on business development to identify companies, including food brands and personal care brands, that would want to work with Coamesa's supply chain.
"Even though I was not able to be in person, I still felt like I was a part of the company," Mollerup said. "I also learned so much about culture, which is so important to open up and learning about how other people live. I got to see a 'hands-on' perspective of how all of the subjects I have learned about in the past play a role in one company."
Sarah Malloy, director of study abroad and international exchange, said efforts are underway to host an in-person intern for the Summer 2022 term. Additionally, the U of A International Students and Scholars Office has joined this endeavor in hopes of expanding virtual internship opportunities to more international alumni.
"We can see that the program opens doors for many more students to develop soft skills that employers look for when hiring, like international cultural literacy," Malloy said. "We know these international connections will make our students more prepared and more equipped for the future."
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