Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Project Snapshot offers virtual experiential learning for high school, university students

July 2, 2020
A Michigan State University sign on Beal Street on Aug. 23, 2019.
A Michigan State University sign on Beal Street on Aug. 23, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

When his internship with Under Armour was rescinded due to COVID-19 concerns, supply chain management senior Andrew Chen did not expect to discover an opportunity to help students around the world instead.

Chen said he initially had difficulties finding internships that were not impacted by the pandemic, which led him to change his approach.

“My mindset changed a little bit,” Chen said. “Instead of, ‘Why am I trying to land an internship and receive projects?’ to, ‘How can I create something … to impact other students similar in my positions?’”

Then, Chen happened upon a “viral” LinkedIn post from Sebastien Chiu, one of the founders of Project Snapshot, a virtual experiential learning fellowship program. 

According to a press release, Project Snapshot is a new experiential learning fellowship that gives Gen-Z the opportunity to shape the post-COVID-19 world from their perspective.

The remote program virtually connects high school students to mentors through their predefined areas of interest, providing a framework for college students to develop their skills.

Chiu began conceptualizing the program in March after the cancellation of his own internship and posted on LinkedIn about the project during the first week of April.

Two months later, Project Snapshot had received 213 total applications for their summer beta run of the free program, which started on June 15.

According to Chiu, the largest aspect of the Zoom-based program is mentorship. Project Snapshot pairs high school mentees with university-level mentors in their predefined area of interest not only to provide support, guidance and assistance in that area but to prepare the students for the transition from high school to secondary education.

Each mentee receives expertise from their mentor for the entire eight-week duration of the program, in addition to weekly professional and personal development workshops and resources to enrich their learning.

Mentees, however, are not the only people reaping the benefits Project Snapshot has to offer.

“Mentorship is a two-way street, and the mentors will be able to learn from their mentees in ways they haven’t expected,” Chiu said.

Students who are either currently receiving collegiate education or who have graduated college within the past two years are eligible to apply to be a mentor.

Panelists and professionals provide information and education to both mentors and mentees, as well.

The mentorship program currently hosts a diverse array of mentors and mentees in different majors and fields of study, including public and social services, interdisciplinary studies, social sciences, health and medicine, arts and humanities, business and science, math and technology.

“We’re really lucky to have such a diverse perspective. … Not only from how people were raised, but their professional experience,” Chiu said.

Project Snapshot also offers a research and development program to university-level students to enhance students’ personal skills and help them find their passion in their industry or major.

According to Chen, the research and development program provides for a more thought-based exploration of students’ own careers.

The program implements projects and tasks to help students have something tangible to leverage when they enter the recruiting system, Chen said.

Students in the research and development program will be provided professional development webinars and outside resources to facilitate their growth and education.

Currently, students with majors in health and medicine, business and social sciences across North America are participating in the research program.

While not every one of the many applicants could be accepted into the program, Project Snapshot also hosts public speaker series and events on their social media outlets to provide value to a wider range of people, Chen said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entirety of Project Snapshot’s operations are held online via Zoom. 

Christi-Anne Weatherly, the program’s public relations coordinator, said she believes how the project runs its operations online is going to be reflective of how many established organizations will be running in the future and will thus prepare students for a post-virus world.

“Some companies I know of are not going back to the office until January, and some are not going back at all, ever,” Weatherly said. “So, I think we are really helping our students get integrated into how businesses are moving forward with how they run their operations, whether they end up going back to the office, going back some days of the week or maybe not going back at all.”

Weatherly said she is impressed by how much the program has accomplished since its creation. 

“I’ve just been so blown away by how much we’ve been able to accomplish in just two months, and I’m really excited to see where we are able to take this in the future,” Weatherly said.

Applications to join Project Snapshot’s fall program will open on July 20 and last about a week, Chen said. Then, the fall program will launch on Sept. 14.

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