Long-Term Impacts of a Career Development Workshop for Undergraduates

Sloan, Valerie ; Haacker, Rebecca ; Barnes, Tim ; Brinkworth, Carolyn

Année de publication
For 15 years, the Undergraduate Leadership Workshop (ULW) has connected undergraduate students with scientists, engineers, educators, and leadership at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The week-long program gives students exposure to research areas and to graduate school and career options in the atmospheric sciences. The ULW provides mentoring, training in leadership and professional skills, and a chance to meet peers in this field. An evaluation of the program, including surveys and focus groups of alumni from the past 15 years, has yielded insights into the program's short- and long-term impacts. The main themes that have emerged are that the ULW provides 1) exposure to a whole new world of careers in the atmospheric sciences; 2) a sense of belonging to a group of students who are also interested in weather and climate; 3) long-term support and a professional network of peers; and 4) an increase in interest in pursuing a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate degree. Results suggest that short but intense programs have significant positive impacts without the investment of effort or cost of a full-fledged internship. The ULW provides a model for a cocurricular learning experience that could be adapted at other research laboratories and universities to serve a larger number of students.

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