Internships, study abroad, and undergraduate research are excellent forms of experiential learning, but one may also gain practical knowledge through community service. Below are just a few of the possibilities.
Although it would not appear on your plan of study, participating in one of the Community Outreach programs can be an extremely valuable component of your experiential learning. Programs include Alternative Breaks, Jumpstart, semester-long service programs (health and human services, language and literacy and more), and educational events. These programs have given individualized majors valuable experience relevant to their academic and career interests.
The Learning Communities at the University of Connecticut are arranged in disciplinary (Engineering, Nursing, Fine Arts, etc.) and interdisciplinary (innovation, leadership, the environment, etc.) groups, and provide not only a social venue, but an academic and experiential one as well. Most of them engage in experiential learning, through the Alternative Spring Break program, community service, and/or study abroad. These experiences can promote “cultural competency, environmental awareness, an enhanced understanding of human rights and equality.” They are also activities in which you can gain practical knowledge and professional experience.
The Urban Semester program, part of the Urban and Community Studies Program, is another way to gain real life experience. Participants in the program live in Hartford, Connecticut, and have an internship with an organization engaged with urban issues. This could be the City of Hartford, a shelter, a school, or a political office, just to name a few of the possibilities. This experience provides direct exposure to the problems that confront American urban communities and initiatives designed to ameliorate them.
There are many student organizations that engage in service learning as well. Participants in the Global Brigades, for example, work in public health, micro-finance, or environmental organizations in Ghana, Nicaragua, Honduras, or Panama. Another example is the Sport Business Association, which is “dedicated to providing its members with first-hand experience in the sport industry along with tremendous opportunities for professional networking.” Participation in a student organization may eventually offer you the chance to assume a leadership role, another important facet of experiential learning.