As the global pandemic spread in 2020, many college students found themselves shut out of summer internships or career opportunities.
In response, the University of Virginia created UVA Launchpad, an eight-week online summer program that combined real-world skills, liberal arts instruction and career preparation.
Now, UVA Launchpad is returning – updated for summer 2021 – and applications are open for undergraduate students at UVA and beyond, including the children of UVA faculty and staff who attend other schools. Students earn six academic credits while building skills and experience for future employment.
“This has been an invaluable experience for me,” Elli Perkins, now a fourth-year anthropology major from Richmond who enrolled in UVA Launchpad in 2020, told the College of Arts & Sciences Magazine last fall. “It couldn’t have been more timely for me, going into my last year.”
This summer, students will choose one course and an additional one-credit bootcamp – which features technical training – to take during the first four weeks of the program. Course offerings range from writing for television to digital marketing and data science. A full list of courses and bootcamps is available on the program’s website.
During the second half of the program, all Launchpad 2021 students will take “Introduction to Complex Problem-Solving & Strategic Decision-Making,” which includes real-world projects for employers.
The total program cost is $3,700 for both in-state and out-of-state students, which includes tuition and fees. Financial aid is available for students with need.
Though the original priority application deadline of April 15 is now past, UVA Launchpad will continue to take applications through June 16.
The University’s College of Arts & Sciences created the program through a partnership with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and Summer Session. It is designed for rising second-, third- and fourth-year undergraduate students in the College. Incoming first-year students are not eligible – but is also open to applicants from across UVA and beyond, including undergraduate students in other schools at UVA and students at other colleges and universities, including children of UVA faculty and staff who attend other schools. New, incoming transfer students are also eligible to apply.
“The program is unique in higher education today and was constructed to provide students with a platform to create a powerful advantage for themselves as they begin their search for full-time jobs, fellowships and more,” Ian Baucom, Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts & Sciences, said last year at the program’s launch. “It combines the resources of the College of Arts & Sciences and its renowned liberal arts education with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ considerable expertise in distance learning and professional development.”
Alex Hernandez, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, said the program offers much more than a way to replace lost in-person opportunities. The mix of liberal arts instruction – a core strength of the University and the College – and real-world skills is effective and relevant for students who want to earn credit while readying themselves for the working world, he said.
“We see this as a powerful mix of UVA’s incredible strength in liberal arts education and the practical skill-building that students need as they prepare to enter the workforce,” Hernandez said. “It’s meant to be easily accessible, no matter where students are in the world.”
Interest is already high, and students who wish to participate are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. The program begins June 21 and runs through Aug. 13.