Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Higher Ed Students Complete Internships at Maynooth University

Sunday, November 06, 2016

In 2015, faculty in WCE’s Department of Educational Leadership, introduced an internship experience in Maynooth, Ireland for students enrolled in WCE’s higher education programs.

Assistant professor Andrew Ryder and associate professor Candace Thompson led WCE’s second internship in partnership with Maynooth University in October. Two doctoral students and nine students enrolled in the Master of Education (M.Ed.) higher education specialization participated in the experience, designed to deepen students’ understanding of higher education and cultural environments different from their own.

Ryder arranged for students meet their Maynooth University internship mentors via Skype before leaving for Ireland. The introductory meetings helped build a relationship foundation, define work parameters and set the stage for applied learning experiences the students would participate in during the trip, he said.

While in Maynooth, students had an opportunity to work in a variety of campus offices where they practiced administrative and leadership work, conducted assessments and supported research projects. As part of the experience, all students were challenged to think critically and produce something of value to leave behind when the trip came to a close.

Stephanie Stripling and Deidre Scanlon produced a brochure to promote MU’s graduate studies and research development office.

Olivia McNeill and Alyssa Brigham used skills learned in Ryder’s course – Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education – to help MU’s access office analyze data collected during orientation. The students analyzed journey maps and empathy maps as a means of assessing the experiences of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, students with disabilities and students transitioning to MU from Ireland’s equivalent of community colleges.

"Using design innovation techniques and our knowledge of student affairs, we were able to provide meaningful insights for the Maynooth Access Programme,” McNeill said. “We hope that our contributions will be beneficial to both the Launchpad Orientation program and the underrepresented students at Maynooth."

Natalie Palmer, a masters student and aspiring international programs advisor, worked with MU’s international program coordinator Alena Jurikova during the internship, an experience that reinforced her passion for her chosen career.

Historically, institutions of higher education in Europe have lacked the breadth of student support services provided at U.S. institutions of higher education, and this is eye-opening for students, Ryder said. “In the U.S., a view of students as consumers has engendered a 24/7 mindset around the way we serve them. In Maynooth, our students had an opportunity to experience a different culture of work. University staff is lean and people work very hard, but the work day has a defined structure that includes a beginning, an end and explicit breaks in between.”

Ryder and Thompson encouraged students to participate in the workday, Maynooth-style. “Professionals at the university pause for a break and cup of tea at 11 each morning,” Thompson said. “This was a foreign experience for our students, but we encouraged them to join their MU mentors and hosts in the tradition.”

Students also had an opportunity to learn about Irish history, literature and folklore, travel the country and immerse themselves in local culture. Upon arrival in Ireland, the group spent a day touring Dublin before beginning their work experiences. Weekend travel was open, providing students an opportunity to explore on their own. Chosen destinations included the Cliffs of Moher, the village of Howth outside Dublin and Cork City on Ireland’s southwest coast. Ryder drove to Cobh, a coastal fishing and shipping town with a rich history of Irish emigration, where he hoped to track a relative on his father’s side believed to have emigrated in 1852. A group of students also flew to Iceland, where they visited the Blue Lagoon.

The Maynooth internship, rich with applied learning and cultural experiences, provides a unique opportunity for Watson’s higher education students. The next internship will be offered in fall 2017. The program is open to all students who have completed six to nine credits in a masters or doctoral higher education program at the college.

UNCW students were featured in a Maynooth University story on Oct. 21.

View video from the inaugural fall 2015 trip.

For information on the Maynooth international experience, visit uncw.edu/ed/international/ireland.

For information on higher education programs at the Watson College, visit uncw.edu/ed/el/highered.