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Unveiling the Distinctions: O’Pake Fellows vs. Traditional Internships

By Cora Cox ’24, Fellow of Business Management

Many ask, ‘How does the O’Pake Fellows program differ from a traditional internship, and how will it benefit me?’ Fortunately, I was just in this same position and will provide you with an in-depth answer. The O’Pake Fellows program provides an exceptional opportunity for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students to engage in a transformative educational experience. This opportunity allows students to be very hands-on and lead projects early on. High performing students, from diverse academic backgrounds, can collaborate closely with visionary entrepreneurs, small business owners, distinguished faculty researchers, and successful industry leaders. Working as an O’Pake Fellow allows me to develop professional development skills, gain valuable resume experience, and have the opportunity to become trained in areas such as web design, social media strategy, financial analyses, venture investment, etc. Through the entire process, the O’Pake Institute has an impeccable support team that will help you every step of the way!

Empowering Creative Exploration

By embarking on this extraordinary path, Fellows find themselves in an environment that nurtures their creativity, allowing them to explore unconventional methods, push boundaries, overcome obstacles, thrive, and achieve. This is very important for students because it enables them to explore all of their interests and aids them in discovering their true passion. Through cultivating such an atmosphere, students experience personal and professional growth and emerge as innovative and principled leaders. The O’Pake Fellows Program empowers students to smoothly transition into their desired careers, equipped with the ability to think imaginatively, uphold ethical standards, and make a lasting impact in their chosen fields. The experience is incredible and a gateway to gaining so many abilities.

Information Regarding Traditional Internships

Traditionally, an internship represents a structured and immersive learning opportunity where students can translate their theoretical knowledge into practical application within a professional work environment. Throughout a designated period, which can span from a few weeks to several months, interns actively participate in assignments and projects directly aligned with their academic pursuits or career aspirations. Guided by seasoned experts, interns acquire invaluable industry perspectives, hone pertinent skills, and establish meaningful connections with professionals. This hands-on experience enables them to delve into diverse facets of their chosen field, grasp the intricacies of workplace dynamics, and develop a realistic outlook on their future career trajectories.

The Traditional Internship Experience

An internship is typically a short-term engagement, often lasting a few weeks to several months, where students or recent graduates work in a professional setting to gain practical experience in a specific field. Interns usually perform assigned tasks and projects related to their study or career interests, primarily focusing on skill development, building industry knowledge, and exploring potential career paths. Internships are often structured and provide a hands-on learning experience under the supervision of professionals. Students can participate in an internship without receiving academic credit, or pursue a credit-bearing opportunity.

The Fellow Experience

O’Pake Fellows are employed by Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. The O’Pake Institute has a portfolio of clients comprised of entrepreneurs, small and established businesses. At the beginning of each academic semester, the O’Pake Staff works to assign student teams to individual client projects, ranging from 3-5 clients during any given semester. All projects are accompanied with a 3-month service agreement, specified project outcomes (i.e., develop a website) and a project manager. Fellows are often provided with access to specialized resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities through the Program. Fellows are encouraged to work on independent projects, engage in intellectual discourse, and contribute to advancing knowledge or addressing societal challenges.

What Is The Difference?

People often need clarification on the O’Pake Fellows Program and traditional internships due to overlapping characteristics. Both The Fellows Program and traditional internships involve experiential learning and offer valuable opportunities for individuals to gain practical experience in their fields of interest. The main difference is this: Students must be referred by a Faculty member, Staff member, or current Fellow in the Program to interview for an O’Pake Fellows position. If selected, they will have the opportunity to work hands-on with 3-5 different clients on a semesterly basis. This is a paid position, and in certain situations, can also be credit- bearing. On the other hand, Students can work directly with University resources, Faculty and Staff to choose an internship site. In this situation, the student is choosing an internship host site and working directly for an employer of their choosing. Depending on the employer, this can be a paid or unpaid experience. It can also be non-credit or credit bearing, depending on the students’ need.

Which Should I Choose?

All of the above!

To become an O’Pake Fellow, you need to be selected as an incoming Freshman, or referred to the program. If you are selected to be an O’Pake Fellow, then you would have the opportunity to work with 3-5 businesses every academic semester. As an O’Pake Fellow, you can also work with your academic advisor to see if your experiences qualify for academic credit. We also release O’Pake Fellows to other internship experiences if an offer comes their way.

On the other hand, you can always pursue a traditional internship. To learn more about internship opportunities that are available to you visit Alvernia University’s Office of Career Development.

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