To make internships more rewarding and attainable, Plattsburgh State career counselor and applied learning specialist Morgan Pellerin is planning to provide students with transportation to their internships.
In previous semesters, students with local internships had the opportunity to apply for the Applied Learning Grant, which can be used to cover taxi fare. Last semester alone, the grant was given to seven students to cover transportation costs that amounted to $3,800.
While Pellerin was very happy to see that money be put to use, he thought, “Could we take that money and service more students?”
When the Career Development Center surveyed the student body, it discovered 30 percent of students have their own transportation, meaning less than a third of students have guaranteed transportation to internships.
Antonellie Delacruz was one student who had an internship in uptown Plattsburgh last fall but did not have her own transportation. She received about $500 from the Applied Learning Grant to cover her Uber costs, which were roughly $6 one way to the site, three times a week.
Thirty-six dollars a week was the cheapest option for Delacruz. Plattsburgh taxis would run about $8 one way. Her other option was to call a friend, but she, like many others, does not want to seem as if she’s taking advantage of her friends’ vehicles.
Delacruz said without the grant money, her internship at Swarovski Lighting would be much less appealing because she would have to pay the hefty transportation cost out of pocket. In the end, she probably wouldn’t have done it.
“It’s a good thing for people like me,” she said, describing students who don’t have a car but are motivated in their field.
With a budget similar to the $3,800 granted to students for transportation, the internship shuttle could make three trips a day to the surrounding area to pick-up and drop-off students: a morning drop-off from 8 to 9 a.m., an afternoon drop-off and pick-up from 12 to 1 p.m. and an evening pick-up from 4 to 5 p.m.
The money would be covering gas and the student driver’s pay. The CDC doesn’t need to purchase a new van because the Housing and Residence Life Office is loaning their vehicle which does not get used during the week.
The shuttle will make stops within a five-mile radius around the campus. It will make trips to businesses downtown, uptown, the Chamber of Commerce, the industrial park and other local locations if needed.
“This isn’t Uber, but the shuttle will get students close to their internship sites,” Pellerin said.
While the shuttle isn’t as personalized as Uber, it will be much more reliable.
Delacruz recalls her internship day ending at 5 p.m. — rush hour for Plattsburgh’s taxis and Ubers. But with the pick-up and drop-off times set, students will not have to wait for rush hour to pass before their transportation to campus.
Pellerin’s vision for the shuttle got its approval early this summer after the spring semester ended, meaning most students have already decided whether to have a fall internship. Because of this, the number of students signed up for the shuttle is lower than expected. To make the shuttle worth the grant money, Pellerin needs at least 10 students.
Pellerin has been reaching out to students on the CDC’s website, sending out memmos through Student Digest and reaching out to department heads to tell their students about the service offered.
Elaine Vargas, PSUC sophomore biomedical science major, found out about the internship shuttle through the Student Digest. She is interning at the Plattsburgh Animal Hospital uptown on Route 3 — about 2 miles away from campus.
“The first few days I walked there,” Vargas said. “Then I tried taking cabs, but that was too expensive to be doing all semester.”
While the availability of the shuttle is still in the works for this semester, Pellerin hopes that students will take advantage for internships next semester.
Vargas’ opportunity to shadow doctors at the Plattsburgh Animal Hospital is valuable to her career giving her real-world experience in her field.
Delacruz also realized how access to her internship lead to greater successes. Her fall 2017 internship at Swarovski Lighting opened the door for her to land an internship at Disney ABC. She said that she wouldn’t be able to have either of these opportunities had it not been for the Applied Learning Grant to cover her transportation.
Pellerin and all involved hope that the shuttle will lead to creating more opportunities for students now and in their futures, and Vargas is already looking forward to her future.
“I am aware there are many challenges and having to get into vet school is one of them, which my internship experience contributes to.”
Email Jacob Elsbree at firstname.lastname@example.org