High-Outcome Internships in Higher Ed: Bridge the Workforce Gap and Enhance Student Success:

Changing Higher Education Podcast 161 with Host Dr. Drumm McNaughton and Guest Daniel Nivern

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High-Outcome Internships in Higher Ed: Bridge the Workforce Gap and Enhance Student Success Changing Higher Education Podcast 161 with Host Dr. Drumm McNaughton and Guest Daniel Nivern
Changing Higher Ed Podcast | Drumm McNaughton | The Change Leader

27 June · Episode 161

High-Outcome Internships in Higher Ed: Bridge the Workforce Gap and Enhance Student Success

32 Min · By Dr. Drumm McNaughton

Higher ed needs to provide more accessible, high-outcome internships to meet the current workforce demands and enhance student success. A recent McKinsey report finds that more than 85% of companies feel there is a skills gap between education and industry.

Higher ed needs to provide more accessible, high-outcome internships to meet the current workforce demands and enhance student success. A recent McKinsey report finds that more than 85% of companies feel there is a skills gap between education and industry, and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified several career readiness skills students must have upon graduation but can only obtain through internships. Meanwhile, more than a third of entry-level jobs require three years of work experience, and students who aren’t getting employed after graduating are already questioning the ROI of their degree.


In this podcast, Dr. Drumm McNaughton discusses the characteristics of a well-set-up intern program and how they can benefit students and higher ed with Daniel Nivern of Virtual Internships. This ed-tech company runs online internship programs across 18 career fields. Daniel discusses the pros and cons of each type of internship, what presidents should discuss with employers before creating internship opportunities, how internships should be structured to garner the best results, what communication should look like between the company and intern, how interns can become more part of a company’s work culture, and how to better promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Podcast Highlights


  • Universities need to ensure that the company and intern are both happy, which requires aligning the objectives of all parties involved. Identify what both sides seek regarding set criteria, tasks, and skills. What skills are companies looking to gain? What skills do they already have? What skills would the intern like to offer the company?


  • Verbal communication must occur before the program begins and should involve identifying projects that the intern must complete by the end of the program. For example, three to five mini-projects can be devised for the intern so they feel they’ve accomplished something by the end of the program. Ad hoc and spontaneous assignments can be beneficial, but more structure is recommended.


  • Integrate two-way feedback to encourage strong communication throughout the internship. The host company supervisor needs to provide structured, formalized feedback so the intern knows how they are progressing and what tasks they’ve accomplished. Likewise, the intern needs to give feedback to the company to get accustomed to communicating upward and understanding what it means to show off what they’ve done. These communications are preferred daily but must be done weekly at the very least.


  • The company should help integrate the intern into the workplace, and the intern should also make an effort. This involves speaking to as many employees as possible in an in-person setting. In a virtual setting, it may mean being part of the online communication channels, such as Slack groups, the all-hands town halls the company may run, etc. This needs to be considered well in advance of the programming.


  • It is encouraged to have these points agreed upon in writing, signed off by the company, and seen by the student before the internship. Failure to ensure alignment can result in a breakdown in the middle of the partnership.


  • In addition to costing the employer extra money, only providing in-person internships can limit the number of students who can participate in the program while diminishing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many students cannot dedicate additional commuting and in-person time outside of school by having to juggle family and work commitments, etc. Virtual internships are a more scalable, accessible, and equitable approach with many of the same advantages as in-person programs.


  • Higher ed is highly encouraged to create credit-bearing internships. Data has shown that students feel much more satisfied with their university course when embedded into the curriculum and believe they have a higher return on investment.


About Our Podcast Guest Daniel Nivern


Daniel is the Co-Founder & CEO of Virtual Internships, an ed-tech company that runs online internship programs across 18 career fields, bridging the gap between education and industry and helping learners from all backgrounds to gain global work experience.


Virtual Internships is one of the top 100 EdTech startups in Europe in the Holon IQ Europe EdTech list and was named the 23rd best remote company to work for in the world in 2022. Through partnerships with institutions including ASU, Aston University, Botho University, and Kaplan, Virtual Internships has supported thousands of students undertaking remote internships.


A graduate of Oxford University with a Master’s in Management and Chinese, Daniel has been featured on CNBC, BBC News, and Bloomberg for his work in developing global employability programs. He is also the founder of CRCC Asia, a company that has helped over 10,000 students to complete internships in Asia.


 Daniel Nivern on Linkedin →


About the Host


Dr. Drumm McNaughton, the host of Changing Higher Ed®, is a consultant to higher ed institutions in governance, accreditation, strategy and change, and mergers.

Changing Higher Ed Podcast 161 with Host Dr. Drumm McNaughton and Guest Dr. Dan Nivern


Welcome to Changing Higher Ed, a podcast dedicated to helping higher education leaders improve their institutions, with your host, Dr. Drumm McNaughton, CEO of the Change Leader, a consultancy that helps higher ed leaders holistically transform their institutions. Learn more at changinghighered.com. And now, here’s your host, Drumm McNaughton.

Drumm McNaughton 

Thank you, David.

Our guest today is Daniel Nivern, co-founder and CEO of Virtual Internships, an ed-tech company that runs online internship programs across 18 career fields, bridging the gap between education and industry and helping learners from all backgrounds gain global work experience.

A graduate of Oxford University with a Masters’ in management and Chinese, Dan has a long background in international postings, including Europe, Asia, and others, which gave him the experience to build a company that creates internships. Dan joins us today to discuss how to create a world-class internship program that benefits universities and graduates in the industry. Dan, welcome to the program.

Dan Nivern  01:17

Thanks so much. I’m happy to be here.

Drumm McNaughton  01:19

Glad to have you as well. You have an incredible background with respect to internships and world travel. I’m excited about this session, where we will discuss the importance of internships for graduates and industry.

Dan Nivern  01:39

Incredible is a generous word. But thank you. Much appreciated.

Drumm McNaughton  01:43

What attracts me to your background is all the international experience you have. You are definitely not a UK player, per se. You sound like you’re from the UK. But with all the travel you’ve had, you can look at things from a global perspective, and in today’s economy, that is so critical.

Dan Nivern  02:05

Thanks again. Traveling has become a passion of mine as well as languages and intercultural fluency. I’ve been very fortunate not just to travel but to actually live and work in those countries through my career progression.

Drumm McNaughton  02:24

And you’ve been able to see firsthand the importance of internships in other countries, haven’t you?

Dan Nivern  02:31

Absolutely. By way of context and background, I previously formed a company called CRCC Asia, where we help tens of thousands of students from around the world do in-person internships overseas. This has helped me see what getting an internship or doing an internship is like in the US, UK, and Australia, in addition to different countries like China, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan.

Drumm McNaughton  02:56

And countries in the Middle East have become so much more important in the global economy than anything else. What were your experiences over there? How different are their internships from ours in the US? Or are they similar?

Dan Nivern  03:15

A lot of this was in an intercultural context. So, again, this organization was helping students primarily from the US, UK, and Australia do internships in China, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. And there are similarities such as hard work, commitment, projects, communication, etc. But I suppose the key difference in a global setting is the intercultural challenge. It’s called the intercultural difference. The first is the language barrier, but a more nuanced explanation is the culture behind communication.

For example, understanding how hierarchy within the workplace may differ from your home workplace or domestic internship placements, communication patterns, the job market, or job availability. So all of these factors make the experience different. But, of course, there are some key similarities as well, especially as the world becomes more globalized. The global marketplace for work has become internationalized.

Drumm McNaughton  04:19

As we talked about before, I lived overseas for 19 years. I traveled to 50 different countries and always enjoyed my experiences there and learning new things.  I can just imagine what it must be like for an intern. It may be their first or second time in a particular country, learning all these nuances and how different cultures function in the workplace, etc.

Dan Nivern  04:50

Absolutely. To be quite frank, this has been my life’s work, to cut a phrase. Again, it was to help people go in person so that they could not only visit Beijing, Tokyo, or Osaka for the internship but immerse themselves and absorb that global international culture as much as possible.

More recently, I realized post-pandemic that there are barriers to people being able to travel overseas for two or three months to Tokyo, great as it is. My newest passion now revolves around virtual internships, allowing people to get that global international work experience still, but making it much more scalable, globalized, and accessible to the average learner. I’m still sticking with the UK, US, and Australia.

Still, I’m increasingly looking at how we can help young Vietnamese students gain access to an international internship or for a student from Botswana to gain international work experience in a virtual setting.

Drumm McNaughton  05:50

That’s fabulous. I hadn’t even thought about those types of opportunities, but it makes perfect sense. It might be my bias toward the US, but you could also allow someone from Botswana or Vietnam to do an internship here in the US virtually. Is that possible?

Dan Nivern  06:11

You’re absolutely right. And it’s not a bias, actually, because there are economic and commercial benefits in that particular cross-border relationship.

Actually, a prime example of it is a relationship I’ve built with Botho University in Botswana, where the local economy, to be frank, is not always thriving, and there’s not always great access to the sort of jobs that students and graduates are looking for. We’ve integrated some support from the IFC, so those Botswanan students were able to do internships with companies in the US.

As you may imagine, some of those did lead to jobs. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship because the company tried and tested the student and offered them a position. From an economic perspective, it will be relatively more cost-efficient for the company while still providing a fantastic above-market salary for the individual from the school in Botswana. That’s one mutually beneficial scenario coming out of these amazing cross-border relationships.

Drumm McNaughton  07:14

You accomplish this through your own company, Virtual Internships, and we’ll get to that. But internships to me are, and, correct me if I’m wrong, solving a problem – the problem being graduates don’t have the key work skills they need to be successful upon graduation.

Dan Nivern  07:34

You’re absolutely right. And, obviously, I’m a huge advocate. I’m very passionate about this. But it’s not just me saying it. There was a recent report by McKinsey that said 87% of companies feel there’s a skills gap between education and industry. So the companies are saying there’s a disconnect.

This is very painful for the students and graduates who have invested time, money, and a lot of effort into their university degrees. And yet, 35% of entry-level jobs in the US ask for three years of work experience. It’s even higher when you’re looking at higher-level IT jobs. So there’s a definite disconnect. And we need to bridge this gap in the interest of all stakeholders.

Drumm McNaughton  08:13

It’s interesting because not only does McKinsey see it, but the Association of American Colleges and Universities came out with a couple of studies that say the same thing.

The number-one thing employers are looking for is teamwork, followed very closely by critical thinking, and the ability to analyze data and draw conclusions. Some curricula give you that. But you’ve got to be very deliberate in how you deliver your courses and the pedagogy, etc., to impart these skills and have students develop them.

Dan Nivern  08:57

You’re absolutely right. It’s a combination of the technical skills, which students may have learned in an academic setting, and application of them in a practical sense, which likely hasn’t happened. That is a huge necessity.

Alongside that, the NACE [the National Association of Colleges and Employers] very clearly articulates that these are career readiness metrics a student needs. But how do you gain those career readiness metrics if you’re only going through an academic course, valuable and insightful as it is? It is very difficult, as you’re alluding to, to actually generate those soft skills and technical skills this way. There needs to be a way to help students and universities because it could become a critical issue if not addressed.

Drumm McNaughton  09:40

And the need for internships is very clear. They provide more experience for students. Students aren’t just learning what they need to know, but what they don’t want to do as well.

Dan Nivern  10:00

It’s so true. We’re very much aligned with this concept. I’ve seen it through my years of experience. An amazing scenario is that a student goes into an internship, gets work experience, and realizes this is exactly the career field that I want to dedicate the next 30 to 40 years of my life to. But there are those who go into it and realize that, actually, digital marketing, for example, is not for them. They’re far more interested in product or data analysis, or something like that.

It’s so important to learn this early on in your journey because you can end up on the wrong trajectory. Many people do wind up in jobs that pay bills, which is important but may not be their passion. It may be that they didn’t have that early experience and ended on a trajectory they couldn’t switch because they had responsibilities and commitments. Luckily, the world has changed a little bit. There is more of an ability to pivot, but it’s still a very useful lesson to learn what you want or don’t want to do for your future career.

Drumm McNaughton  10:55

That’s spot on. So we’ve looked at the need for internships for students and employers. They need more career-ready graduates. This helps to develop those, does it not?

Dan Nivern  11:13

Absolutely. Again, there is that skills gap, and this is a global phenomenon. Globally, there is a disconnect between education and industry in most countries, and that gap needs to be bridged. It becomes even more current and salient in what I perceive as a rapidly changing job market.

The job market becomes fluid with the introduction of new technologies and job replacements, and we need to help companies attract good and untapped talent. We often know the great talent that’s out there. But what about the untapped talent? We need to help students build those skills to bridge that gap.

Drumm McNaughton  11:57

Exactly. It’s so important that the industry gets career-ready graduates. It’s not that they will be able to step into a vice president or CEO role immediately. There are building blocks they learn along the way. But to be able to step into that entry-level job and work on a team and think critically about an issue that is going on are critical skills they have to be ready to use on day one.

Dan Nivern  2:29

Absolutely right. You also just alluded to a very interesting point. You’re not going to be a manager or vice president on day one of your job placement. You may be a great student and have gone to a great school, but you need to build with those building blocks. We talk quite often about stackable credentials as well, which is obviously an evolving piece.

You may get your academic degree, participate in a coding boot camp, earn a micro-credential in a certain area, and intern. You can stack all these together to make you a more employable individual. We’re going into a world where there are more stackable credentials, and one of them on its own is not enough. You need a combination of different learning points that will amalgamate into this core, a more holistic skill set for an individual.

Drumm McNaughton  13:15

That is a great segue into how universities should think about this. It used to be that the university was the end all be all for preparing young people for their careers, but we’re increasingly finding other avenues that can be used. I think Arizona State is a great example of this. They’re offering degree programs, as well as micro-credentials, stackable credentials, etc. They are evolving to where they can remain that go-to place for education for a person’s entire career.

Dan Nivern  13:59

Absolutely. This is really where a lot of my passion kicks in. Frankly, it’s an evolving landscape. There are more options for young people rather than just the university like you said. Previously, it was the golden ticket to a great job. But it’s an evolving landscape. I want universities to innovate and succeed, ultimately. They’re part of our great bastions of the US and the UK. We want them to succeed, but it will need innovation and adaptation.

You’re absolutely right about Arizona State. There are also other dynamic universities out there, like Maryland Global, Western Governors, and Northeastern, that are adapting to this. But the primary desire and need of students is employability, and every statistic backs this up. So if a university isn’t serving that need, demand, or desire, students will and are questioning the return on investment of the many years and money they invested into a four-year degree. So this is absolutely critical to the continued success of universities, which you and I both want to see.

Drumm McNaughton  15:13

Absolutely. So let’s go into some of the characteristics of a well-set-up intern program. It’s so important that students develop these soft skills and even harder skills as well. What do you look for when you’re setting up a good intern program?

Dan Nivern  15:33

The first challenge is the supply of internships. As organizations like Uber or Airbnb say, you benefit from network effects. A higher number of internships or a greater supply of internships should lead to a more correlated and better-aligned match between the student and employer. That’s not always been traditionally easy.

To be fair to universities and others, you have an overworked career service department that is trying to get as many local companies as possible to engage with the university. But the pandemic has provided more of an opportunity through the emergence of more remote work. It opens up the local vicinity to a much larger supply of companies nationwide or internationally. So supply is critical, and remote work does allow for that.

The second is to ensure both sides’ objectives align. Both the company and the intern need to be happy in this relationship. So it’s very important early on to make sure that the matching process is well thought out, alongside what both sides are looking for regarding set criteria, tasks, and skills. What skills are they looking to gain? What skills do they already have? What skills would the intern like to offer the company?

Beyond that, it’s the interview process that’s important. There needs to be verbal communication in advance of the program. When I build programs, I like to focus on project-based internships.

The idea of just leaving it ad hoc and spontaneous might have some value and can give some good experiences, but it’s important, especially in a remote setting, to have some projects already prepared. For example, devise three to five mini-projects that form a portfolio for the intern so they can feel they’ve accomplished something. Project-based tasks are also tangible deliverables.

The last critical piece is providing communication throughout the internship. We do this ourselves by integrating a two-way feedback loop. So the host company supervisor needs to give feedback to the internet in a structured, formalized manner on a weekly basis, at the very least. It should be daily.

This feedback should be done formally as to how the student is progressing and what tasks they’ve accomplished. Likewise, the intern needs to give feedback to the company. It’s important that the intern gets used to communicating upward and understanding what it means to show off what they’ve done. But they also need to experience what it’s like to ask for help, support, advice, and feedback. There’s no point in sitting or hiding away, being afraid of this.

The last piece is integration. This is a commitment on both sides. The company helps integrate the intern, and the intern makes their best efforts to be integrated into the company.

In an in-person setting, there are obvious cues for this. It involves going around and speaking to as many people as possible. In a virtual setting, it may mean being part of the online communication channels, such as the Slack groups, the all-hands town halls the company may run, etc. These are some of the things that are important to getting a good internship. It is also important that all these things are well considered in advance of the program.

Drumm McNaughton  18:49

Those are great points all universities should be thinking about when setting up these intern programs. A couple of points that jumped out to me include the alignment of objectives and project-based internships. You need high tangible outcomes written about what the intern will get from this experience. This is what we expect you to do, etc. It’s almost as though you have a contract between the company and the student.

Dan Nivern  19:18

Absolutely. We call it our Project Placement Plan. It’s signed off by the company, and the student sees it in advance of the internship. It also covers alignment, the events, and the expectations on both sides. Again, work is not always glamorous. There will be great projects, and there may be some gritty projects in there. That is all part of learning and development. But it’s important that this is aligned in advance because you could see a breakdown in the middle, and nobody wants to see that. So upfront alignment of the objective and setting is absolutely essential.

Drumm McNaughton  19:50

When a company advertises an intern project or an internship, are all these things spelled out, are they worked out with the intern, or is it a combination thereof?

Dan Nivern  20:05

That’s a great question. So the way our matching process works is feeding in various inputs from both sides, in terms of what they’re looking for, what skill sets they have, how they like to communicate, etc. We always ensure that there is an interview, and then the project placement plan is done on the back of that.

So we do assist and guide companies with templates for how we suggest a project placement plan should be structured. But it is also important that there is a discretionary ability of the company to align that with what they’ve learned from the intern through their interview calls. This way, you can understand what they’re looking for. Again, relating that back to what you’re looking for, as a company, it is done by what they’ve learned from the intern.

Drumm McNaughton  20:47

So, if a university is setting up one of these programs, they have to develop the supply of internships, be scalable, align the objectives, and complete all the six things you talked about. But there are different models of internships. We talked a little bit about face-to-face, but there’s also online, like what your firm does. But there are also simulations as well. What are some of the pros and cons of each of those?

Dan Nivern  21:20

Yeah, that’s right. As an advocate of work experience in general, I’m very much in favor of all as an option. Some of them can piggyback on the other. They’re not exclusive. You don’t have to do one or the other.

So, of course, there are in-person internships, which are very valuable. You get the skills to understand people in the workplace. You see some of the small nuances. You get the water cooler moment where you may bump into the CEO and get three minutes to chat with them, which is great.

There are also virtual internships, which, of course, is my personal passion. It doesn’t always have the water cooler moment. But it does have that insight into the future of remote work and how to use online tools for remote work, which is a fast-increasing trend.

You also mentioned simulation approaches. There are intermediary organizations that may partner with a company like Google or Microsoft to run a program that gives insight into the workplace. You may not actually work for Microsoft, but you get an insight into what life may be like.

They all have their virtues, and they may all have their flaws as well. I have my own personal passion. But what I’m really passionate about is this idea of optionality and trying to ensure that as many students as possible can participate on a scalable basis with as much tangibility as possible that provides high-outcome-driven employability learning. That is for the betterment of the student, the betterment of the university, the betterment of the industry, and the betterment of countries on a macro level.

Drumm McNaughton  22:45

One of the things that struck me about what you’re doing with virtual internships was the ability to have students do internships across the globe, whether it be students from other countries coming here to the US, or our students going to other countries, etc.

In-person internships are really good things. I suspect you’re going to experience different learnings either way. But the local, in-person experiences are generally focused on the local areas where the students live or where the universities are located, etc. That can be a limiting factor, can it not?

Dan Nivern  23:31

Absolutely. I’m an advocate of in-person internships. Again, I helped over 10,000 students get in-person internships, and there are great outcomes that come from them. But what always frustrated me was the accessibility piece. Not everybody can do it. You’re restricted to your local vicinity. You have to dedicate a lot of commuting and in-person time.

The company also has to dedicate a workspace, which comes at a cost. And for those who are studying or have family or work commitments, let alone having to maneuver around pandemics and warfare, there are additional barriers. There’s also the sheer cost of it. Virtual does offer a much more scalable, accessible, and equitable approach to it with many of the same advantages.

In-person internships open up amazing opportunities for students and us. And, as you said, there’s that international component as well. But we realized that only a small number of students are able to study abroad, and the US is fantastic at advocating for and funding study-abroad opportunities.

But still, there are only very few students who can actually go overseas in person, so this almost whets the appetite for an international or domestic experience and boosts employability. It solves a couple of potential challenges.


Drumm McNaughton  24:42

And those are important to note. I’ve known several people who went overseas for their senior experience. They go for one or two weeks. In fact, we did a podcast with Robyn Simon, an Emmy award-winning producer who has documented these types of experiences.

They do whet their appetite. But it doesn’t necessarily give them the work experience they need. Going to places like Spain for a semester requires a certain kind of person. But if they can do it, the experience, I assume, is just incredible.

Dan Nivern  25:30

Absolutely. We have gotten to help more people get internships. There’s an absolute bonus advantage if you can get an international internship, whether in person—which is great but there are many barriers—or virtually so that you can take part in that experience. And it’s exactly what we’re seeing, even if it’s in a place where the people speak the same language.

We have partnerships with British universities. One of our first partnerships was with the University of Birmingham. And I hope he will forgive me for mentioning him, but one of our first instances in a virtual setting was a British intern working for an American sports company in Silicon Valley. He ended up getting a full-time job with that company. So there are amazing intercultural opportunities in countries where they speak the same language that can result in a full-time position, which is, of course, one of the key objectives.

Drumm McNaughton  26:20

Well, England and America have two different languages. We all know that.

Dan Nivern  26:24

It can be. I spent seven good years in the US, and my two children are American citizens. But there are different language types.

Drumm McNaughton  26:33

Well, we watch a lot of British television, and every once in a while, a term will come up, and it’s like, “What does that mean?” And you have to go and look it up.

When we were speaking a few days ago, you said one thing that struck me. You said many things that struck me, but there was one in particular from the university side about what makes internships successful. It was making sure they get integrated into the curriculum. Can you talk more about that, please?

Dan Nivern  27:08

Again, this is another point of passion for me because when an internship is integrated into the curriculum, it obviously increases its own prestige. We do this by accrediting the internship in the curriculum. So there are various ways of approaching this.

One way we work with organizations is through our own school of record. So they can transfer credits through our school of record. So the student does the virtual internship program and gets three, six, or nine credits. Or they can issue their own credit and accredit the program itself. So it’s being done through the home institution and is accredited in that way. It places a high value on the programming and is incredibly well-received by the students.

There is a lot of data out there. Strada, in particular, does some great research reports on the correlation between student satisfaction and when internships and employability programming are embedded into the curriculum. So we know that students feel much more satisfied with their university course when it has been embedded into the curriculum and that it’s a stronger return on investment.

So the way we like to do it, again, is through integration. It may be a master’s of international business program or an undergrad in computer science. One semester of programming is dedicated to a virtual internship that can be done in that field across maybe eight or 12 weeks for three, six, or nine credits in our system.

That’s how we work with Arizona State, for example. It’s how we work with Potsdam University, a rural campus in upstate New York. It’s how we work with Aston University in the United Kingdom as well, one of our great partners there. So it’s something we advocate for. I see a future where this will be embedded into every curriculum because I think it’s going to be a necessity.

Drumm McNaughton  28:51

I think you’re absolutely right. Dan, this has been fabulous. I want to thank you. Three takeaways for university presidents of boards. What do they need to be thinking about concerning internships because they are critical in today’s world?

Dan Nivern  29:07

I’m going to be a little facetious. I remember Tony Blair in an election campaign once saying our priority was, is, and always will be education, education, education. And I will say that ours is employability, employability, employability. As I’ve said throughout this conversation, it’s what students want. It’s a duty to provide students with what they want, given the investment they’re putting into it.

I want university presidents to look at internships with that level of importance and from a way of how to implement them in a scalable and high-outcome way that will adapt to the fluidity of the job market.

And, finally, alongside it being a duty and looking at it from a scalable way with high outcomes, how do you make it as equitable as possible so that students from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented backgrounds—who traditionally, according to the data, find it most difficult by far to source internships—can participate? Those are my three dreams for university presidents.

Drumm McNaughton  30:06

I think those are very doable. Thank you. So what’s next for you and your firm Virtual Internships?

Dan Nivern  30:15

The cliché would be to say some form of AI approach. And, of course, we are looking at AI and how it’s changing the job market and what that will mean for students. It may mean that getting an internship will get even more competitive. But there is an opportunity for students to develop skills on how to use AI-driven tools that can benefit a company that doesn’t have them.

We’re going into this area. But what is there for us is staying focused on what we do best—optimizing how a virtual internship is structured, making it as accessible and scalable for all, and speaking to universities on how they can integrate this into the curriculum for credit-bearing programs so every student across those companies can do it, especially in places like the US where we’re seeing great traction and momentum. So that’s, again, my dream for AI, and it correlates a little bit with my dream for university presidents.

Drumm McNaughton  31:06

Very good. Dan, thank you so much for being on the program. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I look forward to the next time.

Dan Nivern  31:13

Thank you so much. I’ve enjoyed it as well. It’s been a pleasure.

Drumm McNaughton  31:18

Thanks for listening. And I’d like to give a special thank you to our guest today Dan Nivern, co-founder and CEO at Virtual Internships. Dan, thanks for sharing your insights on the importance of internships and for providing presidents and boards with some great tips on how to set up a world-class internship program that benefits universities, their graduates, and the industry. Until next time. Thank you, listeners.



Changing Higher Ed is a production of the Change Leader, a consultancy committed to transforming higher ed institutions. Find more information about this topic and show notes on this episode at changinghighered.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe to the show. We would also value your honest rating and review. Email any questions, comments, or recommendations for topics or guests to podcast@changinghighered.com. Changing Higher Ed is produced and hosted by Dr. Drumm McNaughton. Post-production is by David L. White.

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