Using Virtual Internships to Expand Access to Opportunity

OCTOBER 28, 2021 | 10:30-11:00

Presented By:

Dr. Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, Alex Oleson, Mindy Mazur

Session Description:

As the pandemic spread across the country, U.S. internship openings were 49 percent lower than the year prior. This decrease represents a much higher decline than what was seen for U.S. job openings, which fell by 27 percent, according to the career site Glassdoor. The DeBruce Foundation recognized these reductions created a new barrier to expanding career pathways because internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships play a crucial role in connecting talent with opportunities. As a response, the Foundation created the vShips Initiative in order to achieve the following goals:

  • Equip and empower employers to pivot to virtual internships rather than cut crucial talent-developing opportunities
  • Increase access to internships for underrepresented groups
  • Foster a diverse talent pipeline and a sustainable workforce

The Foundation convened virtual conversations with vShips employers and interns across the nation to share information on best practices, lessons learned, and to exchange valuable insights.

 This panel presentation, led by The DeBruce Foundation, will highlight how virtual internships serve to increase equitable access to internships, connect innovative employers to opportunity-seeking interns, and provide insight on establishing meaningful employer – employee relationships in a virtual work environment. While vShips was initially a response to the circumstances created by the pandemic, internships going forward will include in-person, virtual, AND hybrid experiences. The panel will also discuss how the lessons from the past year can be applied in various ways to advance equitable opportunity in the future of work. At least one vShips intern will be included in the panel along with a vShips employer.


Dr. Leigh Anne Taylor Knight

Executive Director & COO

The DeBruce Foundation

Alex Oleson

DeBruce Career Corps Member

Mindy Mazur

DeBruce Foundation Consultant

Managing Director – Lents & Associates