Use of the Community Diffusion Model to Develop Community Partnerships and Overcome Barriers to an Urban College Internship Program
The current scarcity of employment opportunities has increased the importance of the internship experience for graduating college students. However, the development of internship sites is fraught with both internal and external barriers. The goal of this article is to describe the development of an internship program in an urban-based liberal arts college. The article describes the: a) use of the Community Diffusion Model to develop partnerships with community sites, b) multilevel barriers to successful program development and maintenance, and c) strategies used to overcome the barriers. During a threeyear period, 110 students participated in the internship program, 59 undergraduates and 51 graduates. Both graduate and undergraduate students were predominantly female, aged 21 – 45. A total of 60 internship positions based in 31 community partner agencies have been developed. Student participation was highest in the direct service activities, and lowest in education activities. Organizational, individual, task-related, and relationship barriers affected the development and maintenance of partnerships. Organizational barriers proved to be the most difficult of these barriers to resolve satisfactorily, while task related barriers proved the most manageable. Establishing partnerships among stakeholders while anticipating multiple implementation barriers was the important lesson learned. Based upon our experiences, we offer recommendations for the development and maintenance of internship programs to colleges, community institutions/organizations, site and program directors, and policy makers.