With opportunities for traditional gap year activities such as traveling and volunteering limited due to the pandemic, Adelphi University's virtual Gap Year Experience offers college students the opportunity to work remotely, in small groups, developing projects for companies in their chosen field. Participants in the program can earn college credits or certification.

This fall, the 11-week program, offered by Adelphi’s Innovation Center, launched with participants working in groups with IBM, Northwell Health and a Queens-based start-up, Bayside Brewery. The program trains students in the first three weeks to improve their professional, networking, digital literacy and consulting skills. Students then spend eight weeks in a guided internship with their chosen organization.

“We had a lot of students who were looking for work experience and our gap year alternative provided that guided work experience,” said Graziela Fusaro, director of the Innovation Center and creator of the program. “We also had a lot of international students for whom it is harder to find internships in the United States, but since the center assigns them to work on projects with the companies, they consider this a way of getting job experience.”

Chloee Gabrielle Louis, who graduated from North Babylon High School last June, decided to take a gap year this fall after her parents raised concerns about her commuting to a New York City college where she was a registered first-year student.

She decided to try community college, Louis said. “But as the fall semester started, I started panicking because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an accountant.”

Louis chose Bayside Brewery because of her interest in business. Having gone through Adelphi’s Gap Year Experience and taken a coding class on the side, Louis has decided to switch her major to computer science.

“The internship opened my eyes and it helped me become more clear about my future,” Louis said. “To kids who don’t know exactly what they want to do, they should definitely do this internship because it helped me get clarity.”

Phuong Pham, MBA ’19, an Adelphi graduate student from Vietnam, was one of the international students in the program. Pham, who also plans to earn an MS in Logistics, Materials and Supply Chain Management this fall, chose the Gap Year Experience as an elective and a way of gaining practical experience in her field.

“I chose Bayside Brewery because when I looked at the project scope, it was tailored toward supply chain management and e-commerce, which fits my résumé perfectly,” Pham said. She worked with three other students to help the owner of Bayside Brewery explore other avenues for getting products out in the wake of COVID-19, as well as helping launch two new beer products.

“The program gave me more hands-on experience,” Pham said. “I think the program has improved my leadership, analytical, organizational and time management skills and has helped me learn more about my field, which is supply chain.”

Registration for the Spring 2021 session of Adelphi’s Gap Year Experience, which begins February 1, is now open. Adelphi’s Innovation Center is currently interviewing applicants to help define the types of projects and companies that will be part of the next session. To apply for Adelphi’s Gap Year Experience program, visit adelphi.edu/gap-year.

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Adelphi’s Innovation Center, which opened earlier this year, currently runs four programs: summer internships, Gap Year Experience, Live Classes and IC Labs. The Live Classes are jointly developed by faculty and the center to provide experiential learning for students and form part of their academic curriculum; the projects in the IC Labs are extracurricular activities that are not for academic credit. For more about the Innovation Center, see adelphi.edu/innovation-center.

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