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IDEA Fund Launches New Externship Program with UVA Career Services

UVA Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Fund Launches New Externship Program with UVA Career Services


The IDEA Fund is a group of action-oriented alums that work to make UVA a more inclusive environment that is welcoming to all of our students.  We focus on making investments that accelerate or drive attention to an issue related to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access for students, faculty and staff.

Think of us as venture capitalists that invest in new ideas that help the University focus on unmet needs in the UVA community.  Our goal is not run programs indefinitely but to spark thoughtful developments and data that help the University develop programmatic responses to the gaps that exist at UVA.


Fall 2017 Launch of the Career Exploration and IDEAS Externship Pilot Program

The IDEA Fund Trustees are excited about sponsoring a 3-year Career Exploration Externship pilot that UA Career Services is launching in the Fall of 2017 (learn more at: 

The externship program is being designed to provide J-Term and Summer week-long externships with Alumni mentors.  The program focuses on 3 distinct student groups comprised of First Generation, Low Income and Transfer Students

The Trustees have made a significant capital commitment towards this program because we believe that these students need a program like this to help better define their post-UVA careers.    We learned that Career Services was very interested in creating this type of program but didn’t have the budget to get started so we stepped.  Our goal is to place at least 80 students into week long externships with alums that can host/sponsor the students in career fields that the students wants to explore.


Why Focus on this Area of Student Experience?

First, it is important to note that getting a good career outcome from the UVA is paramount to creating value from an excellent UVA education.  However, career outcomes are not simply a function of classroom or on-Grounds experience.  They require career skills such as developing strong personal networks, having good interview skills and learning to conduct self-assessments that help students identify good career fits.  The Externship Pilot developed by Career Services will allow students to start developing these skills through interactions with alumni hosts.

Based on our discussions with Career Services, we felt that students that are first generation do not have the kind of networks that facilitate career exploration so that is a gap that this type of externship can help develop through networking with alums that become hosts.  Low-income and transfer students generally do not have the time to invest in unpaid internships or “explore” different career outcomes since they generally have limited time during school breaks for career explorations.  For these reasons, these students can’t easily integrate into the standard internship models which are both time consuming and increasingly competitive.


By bringing a weeklong externship program to the table, we think we can dramatically expand the career horizons for these diverse students and help make the UVA experience even more meaningful to them.

Second, this pilot is intended to generate the data and experience to make the externship a part of the regular funding of the Career Services.  This is the “venture capital” aspect of what the Trustees do.  By working with Career Services on the pilot, we hope to build a case that this focus on providing externship to diverse students, especially those that are first generation, low income and transfer students, should be a programmatic element of UVA’s Career Services.


How can alums help?

First, we are interested in finding alums that want to host these students at their company.  If alums are interested, they can send us a message through our [website] or reach out directly to the lead of the pilot program at UVA Career Services, Christie Julien at

Another way that alums can help would be to donate to the IDEA Fund by going to our website and making an online donation at 


We ask that alums not to forget that many employers also match individual contributions so that could be a very important way of leveraging even a small contribution.