August 20, 2021
The Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute continues to strategically build partnerships with companies to create an array of opportunities for students to pursue as part of The Arch at Rensselaer.
During The Arch, all students spend a semester during their junior year participating in an off-campus Individual Learning Experience (ILE), which could take the form of an internship or co-op, international or national opportunity (i.e., study abroad or study at another U.S. institution), or research, civic engagement, or a self-designed experience.
Through civic engagement, students use their skill sets and unique talents to help communities in need, including nonprofit organizations, schools, hospitals, health care facilities, government agencies, or advocacy groups.
One notable partnership Rensselaer cultivated to connect students with civic engagement opportunities is InsightFormation. As a respected leader in community strategy implementation, InsightFormation helps their clients solve complex health and system-level social issues by utilizing cutting-edge collaboration practices and their innovative strategy management software. Located in Plymouth, Minnesota, InsightFormation works with clients across the U.S. and Canada, helping them improve their collective impact and population health. Learn more at the Population Health Learning Collaborative, which was established by InsightFormation.
When asked what appeals to them about Rensselaer students, Bill Barberg, the company president and founder, said, “Our work to help communities address the complex issues of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and resilience with ‘system thinking’ and strategy-centered approaches requires some serious intellectual horsepower, combined with a desire to learn and a motivation to take on wicked problems. We think RPI students have those characteristics. We need problem-solvers and builders who can help create new things, not people who just want to plug in and walk down a well-worn path of standard processes. Plus, we use a lot of technology, and RPI students are not intimidated by learning how to use new software!”
Students who join InsightFormation will dive into a wealth of state-of-the-art training materials in e-learning modules, recorded webinars, and online summits. They will build on that learning by researching promising practices, and contacting successful innovators to gather materials, lessons, and tools that other communities can adopt. In addition to helping local communities with implementing some of these strategies, the students will be adding content to the ACEs & Resilience Resource Commons for Communities (ARRCC), a platform similar to Wikipedia® that was featured in the Journal of Change Management in a peer-reviewed article on Leading Social Transformations, co-authored by Bill Barberg, the individual who will be coaching and mentoring students throughout The Arch experience.
Students will also have the opportunity to showcase their skills and techniques to support the work of nine coalitions throughout the U.S. and Canada. Students can choose to work on topics that address different sources of childhood trauma including: domestic/sexual violence, child abuse, lack of positive recreational opportunities, divorce/dysfunctional family justice system, kindergarten readiness, and increasing parental leadership in improving early childhood well-being.
The benefits of participating in an away-opportunity at InsightFormation include gaining the skills to launch a career as a leader in an emerging field, an environment that allows space for creativity, and the opportunity to create content, advance marketing, and support communities who are participating in the ARRCC Action Network.
The plan is for the first and last month of the experience to be done remotely and the middle two months will be done on-site in Plymouth, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. InsightFormation will seek to find free or low-cost home-stay housing, but if home-stay options for students are not available, the away experience can be accomplished entirely remotely. Students can apply for the fall civic engagement internship in Handshake by September 1.