I recently spoke with Chris Ratcliffe, a business professor at Bryant University, concerning the Management 200 service-based learning project and this semester’s Volunteer Internship Expo (VIE). This was the first year VIE was held on Bryant’s campus and, according to Ratcliffe, it was “quite a success.” VIE was introduced to Bryant by Executive Director of the Amica Center for Career Education, Kevin Gaw. The Amica Center then coordinated the outreach to all the organizations that participated.
For those of you who do not know, VIE is a partnership program between the Office of Campus Engagement, the Management Department, and the Amica Center. Through this event, students are given the chance to connect with local non-profit organizations and government agencies. This networking can lead to a variety of internship and/or volunteer opportunities for participating students. The event was held on September 14th and yielded a great turn-out of more than 40 nonprofits and many government agencies. “VIE creates a culture of giving back on the Bryant University campus,” according to Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe also discussed the importance of having not only sophomores attend this program, but freshmen as well. Volunteering freshmen year is beneficial to building lasting connections with organizations, both on and off campus. Furthermore, freshmen involvement in VIE helps prepare students for what is to come in their sophomore year during their Management 200 course. In a conversation, Ratcliffe explained his take on the three main reasons why freshmen should get involved in VIE: “First, students should always be using their skills and time to assist those less fortunate than they are. Second, many companies hire candidates based, in part, upon their community service; and third, it will dramatically impact your success in the management 200/service learning program, since all sophomores must find a non-profit to work with.”
As Ratcliffe stated, all sophomores in Management 200 are required to participate in a service learning project. Through this project, students must work closely with a nonprofit, while using critical thinking skills to facilitate improvement and better help the organization achieve its mission. Early involvement in service learning opportunities on campus will not only provide students with more business management experience, but it will also foster a better understanding of how non-profit organizations operate.
Next semester’s Volunteer Internship Expo will take place on Wednesday, February 8th. If you are interested in attending, here are a few tips to help you prepare. First, make sure you review the directory of employers/nonprofits that will be attending before the event to target organizations of interest to you. Second, remember to research, research, research! Look at a nonprofit or government agency’s website and social media to get more insight on their purpose and function. Lastly, come prepared with multiple copies of your resume. Remember the VIE event is a great opportunity to network. Take advantage of it!