Fontys ICT deploys NPO funds to improve internships

Fontys Information and Communication Technology
At Fontys ICT, with the catalysing role of the NPO funds granted, an important step has been taken towards strengthening the internships. Students look for and find a more suitable place, are better prepared and better supervised. 'Internships are practice before graduation and, above all, a stepping stone to a great career. By making improvements both during the preparations and during the supervision of the internship, we have adapted the usefulness and effect of the internships in a sustainable way', internship coordinators Petra Heck and Constanze Thomassen believe.

There had long been a desire to redesign internships at Fontys ICT. 'Your internship partly determines your CV and the start of your career,' Constanze states. The set-up of the two internship periods was already changed a few years ago when the choice was made for a broad internship semester, giving students more freedom of choice for the direction to choose. 'In addition, there had long been a need for better preparation and matching,' says Petra, who is also central contact for the other internship coordinators at Fontys ICT. 'Preparation for the internship was integrated into the curriculum, but we increasingly found that more explicit attention was needed for this. The breadth and diversity of the field of ICT is enormous and many of our students have hardly any idea of what the work field looks like and what the opportunities are within it.'

Better and personal guidance

The extra funding was initially used to improve the preparation process. Constanze: 'An online work environment called 'Internship preparation and job orientation' has been set up. This includes three modules in which students are confronted with questions such as: who am I as a professional, which companies are there, what suits me and my interests and how do I make sure I also find a suitable assignment?'

In addition to this online tool, efforts were also made to provide better and more personal guidance from the programme. The semester coach/internship supervisor plays an important role in this. He or she guides the student in his or her personal and professional development. In the past, there was less time for this, but with the NPO funds, resources became available for this. The goal? Engage with the student, ask the right questions, coach the student in preparation.'

Guidance during the internship also became more intensive due to the NPO funds. Petra: 'By now, students were used to having conversations via Teams. The internship supervisor now also makes use of this by speaking to the student regularly during the internship, so that a finger can be kept on the pulse.'

Embedded in structure

With the online work environment and improved guidance, good steps have been taken towards higher-quality internships within Fontys ICT. But ... what will happen when the extra financial resources will soon disappear? 'The online work environment will remain a fixed component in the matching and preparation of the internship,' say the two coordinators. 'Because we have now also experienced that the extra guidance is effective and that this guidance actually contributes to a better internship, this way of guidance will be embedded in our structure.' The extra hours of internship supervision will also be retained when the NPO funds stop.' Both students and supervisors are convinced of the usefulness of this extra guidance.'

The two ladies are happy how the corona funds have been spent within the institute. 'Nice that this way we were still able to get something positive out of that difficult corona period for many students and teachers.'

Tags: Education