Duke is offering undergraduates a summer internship Kunshan, China, in close proximity to the future campus of Duke Kunshan University.
The five-week internship, which will run from June 7 to July 12, is organized by the Office of Global Strategy and Programs in conjunction with City of Kunshan leaders to provide students with the chance to gain work experience while exploring China. The program will also seek to help Duke establish a good relationship with the municipality of Kunshan and obtain valuable feedback in light of the future opening of Duke’s new China campus, said Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and associate vice provost for undergraduate education.
“Just like Duke wants a good relationship in Durham—get[ting] our students out in Durham and doing service... we want our students to be integrated into Kunshan, as well,” Baker said.
Selected students will first engage in one week of language and culture training, followed by four weeks of an internship at a company, with opportunities for cultural excursions. Although the details of the exact internships offered are still being worked out with Duke’s partners in Kunshan, Baker expects that there will be a fair variety including government, manufacturing and advertising.
“The internship came to record very quickly,” said Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost of undergraduate education. “We wanted to get the word out while students are still applying for internships—even if we don’t yet know the details.”
Nowicki said the program will adopt parallel approach, building a selection of internship options while evaluating student applicants. That way, once applicants are chosen, they can be placed into the internship that is most suited to their interests.
He noted that in order to ensure that the final group consists of a diverse set of students, the program will not target students of any particular major, nationality or gender. Even though the program specifies that there is a language component to the program, it is more of a guideline than a requirement, he added. Having participants who do not speak Chinese will actually help answer the question of how these students handle an immersive program.
The hope is that the experiences of these students will give Duke valuable insight into how to think about the future student experience at DKU. Students are expected to arrive at the campus Fall 2014.
“As we continue to develop a plan for DKU, it would be good to have undergraduates have some experience over [in Kunshan],” Nowicki said. “The stories of students who have been there, lived there and worked there will be useful to tell us how DKU will work.”
The current focus of the DKU initiative is to develop the campus, said Nora Bynum, vice provost for DKU and China initiatives. Given that DKU residences are still under construction, students who are accepted for this internship will likely be placed in apartments in the city, although the details of these living arrangements are not yet clear.
Nowicki, however, believes that the distance between these apartments and the campus will not take away from the lessons that Duke can learn for DKU.
“I’m sure that those students will be taken to DKU and will be involved in a lot of stuff there,” he said. “Even if they don’t live on the actual campus, [Duke] can still learn a lot from them.”
This year’s internship will not be the first time that Duke students will have traveled to Kunshan. In addition to the Duke men’s basketball team’s exhibition game last year and a Duke dance troupe that toured China with a stop in Kunshan, there is also an official DKU student advisory council that has sent members to visit the campus. Nowicki noted that the internship, however, will provide the closest comparison to what future DKU students will experience and the feedback will ensure the quality of DKU.
“DKU is a new program, so everything is being done for the first time,” Bynum said. “But we have the same standards for it and the internship that we have for any Duke program.”
Lauren Carroll contributed reporting.