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Building a Supervisor Professional Learning Model to Improve Internships in Information and Communication Technology

Grant Overview

SuperPL is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #2134583). This Advancing Innovation and Impact in Undergraduate STEM Education project seeks to improve internship outcomes for Information Technology students by testing the efficacy of professional learning (PL) for internship supervisors.

Early internship experiences are strongly linked to improved career outcomes, such as an increased likelihood to graduate, receiving a full-time job offer, and earning professional certifications. The goals of this project are to increase access to IT internship experiences for NOVA students, develop a PL program to support internship supervisors, and investigate the PL's efficacy in improving internship outcomes.

During its 4-year duration, SuperPL will achieve these goals by:

  • Developing and deploying a Career Leadership and Readiness Institute (CLRI) for NOVA students.
  • Creating a guaranteed interview and IT internship program with Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS).
  • Providing PWCS internship supervisors with PL to help improve internship experiences for students.

This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). This project aims to serve the national interest by preparing students for careers in information and communication technology (ICT).

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on computing infrastructure, amplified the need for skilled workers to support this infrastructure, and has disproportionately negatively impacted college students, especially those from historically marginalized groups.

This project addresses the need to prepare students for ICT careers by developing (1) a Career and Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI) program, (2) an internship program for CLRI completers, and (3) a professional learning (PL) program targeted at internship supervisors for students in Northern Virginia Community College's (NOVA) Information and Engineering Technologies programs.

The goals of the project are to (1) increase access and improve internship outcomes and (2) develop a PL program to support intern supervision. Over the four-year duration of this project, 150 students will be provided with career and leadership preparation through the CLRI program, 75 of the CLRI completers will enroll in an IT internship program, and PL will be provided for 50 supervisors.

Using a quasi-experimental mixed methods research design, this project will advance our understanding of how projects such as this one (a) improve outcomes (i.e., professional socialization, attitudes toward ICT disciplines, degree completion, persistence in ICT careers) for CLRI completers placed in internships compared to CLRI completers who are not placed in internships; and (b) improve supervisors' coaching of interns (i.e., confidence for supervising, effective coaching skills). The longitudinal and cross-sectional components of the research design allow for comparison of outcomes and documentation of the relative impacts of the CLRI, internship, and PL for students and supervisors, which is absent in the existing research literature. Since supervision quality and characteristics are critically important in determining student learning experiences and outcomes in diverse fields, the model is expected to be valuable across disciplines and for all workplace learning opportunities.

The NSF program description on Advancing Innovation and Impact in Undergraduate STEM Education at two-year Institutions of Higher Education supports projects that advance STEM education initiatives at two-year colleges. The program description promotes innovative and evidence-based practices based practices in undergraduate STEM education at two-year colleges.

CLRI is a FREE professional development program that provides NOVA IET students with an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills to become more competitive job candidates.  

Spring 2023

  • 24 CLRI completers from NOVA IET (10 Computer Science, 6 Information Technology, 4 Cybersecurity, 3 Engineering Technology/Data Center Operations, 1 Cloud Computing)

 Fall 2022

  • 21 CLRI completers from NOVA IET (9 Information Technology, 4 Cybersecurity, 3 Computer Science, 2 Engineering Technology, 2 Cloud Computing, 1 Data Center Operations)
  • 8 industry professionals served in Executive Mentoring and Networking Program, interacting with every CLRI student at the final roundtable event.
  • 3 students offered jobs directly at networking event
  • 11 students interviewed for job opportunities at companies such as Google, Iron Mountain, PWCS, Red River, Coresite, CompuDynamics, Simple Technology Solutions, and more.


  • 37 CLRI graduates from NOVA IET and other degree programs
  • 19 of 37 graduates in Information Technology

CLRI uses the NOVA Engage App to track participation and to collect feedback and ratings.

The SuperPL NSF grant creates a guaranteed interview and IT internship program with Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS).

Summer 2023

  • Interviews and Internships TBD

Summer 2022

  • 43 student interviews
  • 25 Internships offered
  • 21 students completed PWCS IT Internships
  • 7 interns applied for full-time IT job at PWCS
  • 3 interns accepted full-time IT job at PWCS

The SuperPL NSF grant provides PWCS internship supervisors with Professional Learning to help improve internship experiences for students.

Fall 2023 - 4 Sessions Planned

Spring 2023 - 4 Sessions Completed

  • 12 PWCS IT Supervisors completed Intro to Supervisory Skills
  • 14 PWCS IT Supervisors completed Asynchronous Exercises in partnership with the Virginia Talent and Opportunity Partnership Program (VTOP)
  • 14 PWCS IT Supervisors completed How to be an Effective Intern Supervisor
  • 14 PWCS IT Supervisors scheduled to attend the Review and Networking Event (May-June 2023)

SuperPL Contacts

Mr. Josh Labrie, Principal Investigator: jlabrie@nvcc.edu
Mr. Jack Bidlack, Co-Principal Investigator: jbidlack@nvcc.edu
Chris Russell, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator: crussell@nvcc.edu

For more information about the National Science Foundation (NSF):

Go to https://www.nsf.gov