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Professional Readiness Experience

Pre-Graduation
Pre-Real World,
Gain experience through the PRE




Introduction

What Is the PRE?

The Professional Readiness Experience (PRE) is a graduation requirement designed to better prepare students for the world of work by giving each student additional practical and relevant professional development experience aligned with their chosen career field.

This requirement can be met by choosing a designated PRE course through their academic department such as an internship or practicum, but it can also be met through the completion of one of five experiences independent of a course. These are:

  • Certified Internship Program (CIP)
  • Research
  • Study Abroad
  • Service-Learning
  • Leadership

Each option with the PRE has unique features. To learn more about each experience, review the drop-down menus below.

Student Application Process and Timeline

Step 1: Exploration

Which path fits you best?

Because each student has a unique calling, strengths, and interests, the PRE is designed to allow for student preferences to align with individual career goals. We start work on the PRE in University 111 classes where student explore strengths and purpose to determine what is the best fit for each student.

Step 2: Student Application

Plan your adventure.

The ideal time to complete a PRE experience is between the sophomore and junior year, although each student situation varies. This allows a student enough time prepare for the PRE while also being able to use the experience to impact the rest of their college journey.

To start the PRE process, each student much first complete the PRE student application indicating their intended PRE choice, project supervisor and indicate how this experience will fit with career goals.

Step 3: Complete the Experience

Blaze the trail!

Successfully accomplishing one PRE fulfills the student graduation requirement providing intentional steps toward the student’s professional readiness. Successful completion of a PRE-designated course or experience independent of a course, will be indicated on the student transcript.

Step 4: Put it all Together

Make the journey matter.

The PRE gives students the opportunity to demonstrate specific skills and experience in a real-world work setting. Students are expected to couple this experience with resume development, interview and networking skills, and refinement of professional goals.

Pre Resources

PRE-Designated Courses

What It Is:

Specific courses have been designated in certain academic departments to fulfill the PRE requirement.  PRE designated classes are listed in the academic catalog by each course description and the PRE student application. 

What the PRE Looks For:

Students should check major-specific requirements such as prerequisite coursework to ensure these specific criteria are met prior to applying through the PRE student application AND registering for the course.

Examples of Possible PRE Designated Course Opportunities:

  • Chemistry Seminar CHEM 391/491
  • Student Teaching EDUC or EDU 450
  • Internship in Exercise Science EXSI 451
  • Nursing Clinical NUR 211 and NUR 463

What Students Will Learn:

Student learning will be specific to each content area and include a combination of discipline-specific information, applicable content, and professional readiness development.

Process for Completing a PRE-Designated Course

Step 1

  • Students should review prerequisites and requirements for the course with their academic advisor. The PRE Designated courses are completed through a required or elective internship course in respective academic program of study.

Step 2

  • Complete the PRE student application
  • The Project Supervisor/faculty member teaching the course will be the facilitator of the internship course
  • Students will register for the course

Step 3

  • Successful completion of course requirements will be determined based on the course syllabi. Successful completion of the PRE Designated course with a grade of a “C” or better counts as completion of the PRE graduation requirement.  See the PRE grading policy in the university catalog for further details.

PRE Internship

What It Is:

One of the ways students can receive credit for an internship that is not associated with a required course is the Certified Internship Program (CIP). The CIP serves as intentionally-designed, experiential learning opportunities that deliver practical experience in an area directly correlating to a student’s professional goals and interests.

Internships are rooted in student learning and development, working in conjunction with students’ Liberal Arts education. In order for an experience to be considered an authentic and holistic internship, critical reflection, evaluation and feedback must be present throughout the pre-determined time frame. It is essential for internship supervision to be facilitated by an appropriately trained professional in the respective field, acting as a mentor who works with the student in the development of clearly defined internship learning outcomes.

A student’s role throughout the internship experience should complement rather than replace existing internship site employees as per The Fair Labor Standards Act (US Wage and Hour Division, 2010). Additionally, students are required to adhere to policies stated in the Gardner-Webb University Student Handbook specific to the student’s enrollment year.

What This PRE Looks For:

To ensure that an experience—whether a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually—is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the outlined definition, all the following criteria must be met:

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • Prior to the beginning of the internship there are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
  • At the end of the internship, there is an established process for reflection on the learning objectives established earlier.

Examples of Possible Internship Opportunities:

  • Certified Internship Program, non-credit-bearing internship offered through the GWU Center for Personal and Professional Development
  • Approved internship opportunity offered through an external business, agency, or organization at a local, national or international location

What Students Will Learn:

The Project Supervisor and student will develop student learning outcomes specific to the PRE, prior to the experience.

General learning areas to which this experience will contribute are:

  • Provide student with experiences that will enable them to develop sound human relations and spiritual development
  • Provide student opportunity to integrate theory and practice into professional education
  • Provide student opportunity to promote and broaden philosophy and understanding of the profession in which they are interested
  • Enable student to obtain information that can be used as a basis for making choices in relation to future jobs, areas of specialization, and/or further study in their field
  • Enable student to recognize personal strengths and weaknesses and intentionally address those moving forward in their academic, professional and personal goals and endeavors
  • provide student with opportunity to gain awareness and experience in general operations, leadership, problem-solving, and technical skills within their respective field

Process for Completing an Internship Independent of a Course:

Step 1:

  • Complete the PRE Student Application and review next steps

Step 2:

  • Application completion and approval by Internship Coordinator
  • Pre-determined proposal submission date clearly indicated by Internship Coordinator upon acceptance into CIP
  • Signed agreement between student, internship site supervisor, internship coordinator
  • Completion of a minimum of 50 on-site hours
  • All necessary assignments, evaluations, contracts, and learning objectives have been signed/submitted to internship coordinator
  • Review of student’s fulfillment of CIP requirements by Internship Coordinator and advisory committee
  • Internship Coordinator will enter Pass / Fail rating for course into WebbConnect, indicating approval of student’s graduation requirement

PRE Research

What It Is:

Research involves students actively engaging in scholarly inquiry into significant issues in a discipline of their choosing. Research as a Professional Readiness Experience for undergraduates is both an independent pursuit of knowledge by the student and a collaborative exercise under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

What This PRE Looks For:

Acceptable projects must include the following components:

  • Proposal identifying the question to be researched
  • Research, including proper planning and preparation
  • Mentoring, including regular reporting and feedback during all phases
  • Revision, drafting and editing of the final production and presentation
  • Submission of a final written component/visual or artistic display or performance in the style and format acceptable
  • Presentation in a suitably professional, relative to the discipline, format and venue

Examples of Possible Research Opportunities:

  • Honors Thesis
  • Summer Scholars or capstone courses/experiences that meet the criteria
  • Independent study courses, guided research projects done as part of a class, then expanded and presented or artistic performance or display projects (which meet relevant practices and standards, including originality/creativity in the profession in which they are created).

Examples of Possible Research Presentations:

  • Formal defense (e.g. Honor Thesis),
  • Presentation at the Life of the Scholar (LOTS) Conference
  • Regional or national professional or honorary organization conferences, or other similarly professional
  • Scholarly situations relevant to disciplinary standards.

What Students Will Learn:

Students completing a Professional Readiness Experience in Research will strengthen their skills and self-confidence by designing, researching, completing and presenting a research project on a significant issue in a discipline of their choosing.

  • Identification of significant questions/issues and why they are significant and deserving of attention
  • Locating, evaluating and utilizing sources of information
  • Making connections between types of information and with possible conclusions
  • Organizational skills
  • Written communication skills
  • Crafting a convincing argument
  • Oral and/or visual communication skills

Process for Completing a PRE Research Indpendent of a Course

To pursue the Research PRE requirement independent of other requirements (including if the project is part of an Independent Study or Course by Arrangement), follow the steps below. In situations where a student is utilizing an experience that meets another University/Program requirement (e.g. Honors Thesis, major/minor capstone requirement), the recordkeeping and reporting procedures for that requirement must be followed in addition to those listed below.

STEP 1: Complete the PRE Student Application

  • The student initiates the project by selecting a faculty mentor in the chosen field of study.

STEP 2: Review Next Steps

  • The student drafts a proposal of the project including identifying the issue/question to investigate and explaining the significance of the question.
  • The student and mentor select another faculty member with relevant expertise to serve as a reader.
  • Student, mentor and reader review all Research PRE criteria and the student’s project proposal and agree upon a schedule for completion of the project and relevant interim assignments (research plan, experiment design, bibliography, outline, etc.) and clearly establish expectations of deadlines, format and grading criteria.
  • Student and mentor establish preliminary plans (location/venue, format, deadlines, etc.) for the presentation
  • Supervisor /Mentor informs the Undergraduate Research director of the student’s intention to pursue a Research PRE under his/her direction.
  • Undergraduate Research informs the Registrar’s Office that this individual student is seeking to meet the Research PRE requirement through this particular experience and will guide the student in the project. In order to enter the course correctly in Banner, the Registrar’s Office will need to know that this is a Pass/Fail graded course, but carries no credit hours.

STEP 3: Completion of PRE

  • During the research phase of the project, mentor and student must meet regularly to discuss project progress. The reader may be involved as determined by mutual agreement of student, mentor and reader.
  • Student submits and the mentor and reader evaluate the completed written component and mutually agree upon its merit.
  • Student, with mentor’s oversight, develop a suitable presentation from the written component
  • Student makes the research presentation. Arrangements for this presentation should be discussed early in the process in order make necessary preparations.

PRE Study Abroad

What It Is:

Study abroad is the term given to a program conducted through Gardner-Webb University which allows a student to live in a foreign country and attend a foreign university. In most cases, two universities have an arrangement which allows them to exchange students (hence the term 'exchange student') so that these students can learn about a foreign culture (and language), and broaden their horizons. The program usually grants credit for courses taken at the foreign institution and some also arrange for a work-study or internship agreement.

Study abroad programs come in different shapes and sizes. The typical program of which one thinks allows a student to spend a semester studying abroad, but some programs run for multiple semesters. Some are geared solely around studying and attending a foreign university, while others can include internships or volunteer experiences. Programs also vary in how the student is supported, with some having a 'host family' situation, whereby exchange students can live with a local family. Other programs simply provide a dorm or apartment for the student.

What This PRE Looks For:

  • The experience abroad must consist of at least one month in the foreign country
  • Student must hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher and have no evidence of disciplinary action in student file. (Note: 3.0 GPA is standard, but for World Languages students attending a summer language program, a GPA of at least 2.0 is acceptable.)
  • The language placement testing should apply to any returning student who wishes to continue his/her studies of a foreign language, no matter whether this is part of a major, a minor, or no specific concentration.
  • Must satisfactorily complete Professional Development unit and submit to Project Supervisor of the experience (see attached)
  • If GWU credit is to be obtained in a foreign language, the PRE is approved by the GWU Department of World Languages and Cultures

Examples of Possible Study Abroad Opportunities:

Currently 16 options exist for study abroad, each of which consists of at least one month/4 weeks of study.

  • Study at 12 GWU-approved partner schools in countries such as Austria, Greece, Germany, Spain and Ghana, consisting of a semester’s study at one of the institutions. Students earn 12-18 credit hours.
  • Study Spanish in Costa Rica or Leon, Spain for 4 weeks through the GWU Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures – SPAN 311, 312, students earn 6 credit hours.
  • Study French in Trois Rivieres, Quebec or Strasbourg, France for 4 weeks through the GWU Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures – FREN 311, 312, students earn 6 credit hours.
  • Bonner Project – study abroad course proposed annually. Study for 4 weeks guided by a GWU professor in a foreign country and on a topic of professor’s choice. Students earn 3-6 credit hours.

Participation in short or long-term mission trips will not fit into this definition. Experiences abroad arranged by students on their own, with no prior awareness on the part of university-appointed project supervisors, will not meet this requirement.

What Students Will Learn:

The Project Supervisor and student will develop student learning outcomes specific to the PRE, prior to the experience.

General learning areas to which this experience will contribute are:

  • Becoming more globally literate, informed about the world and culturally aware
  • Increasing foreign language skills
  • Increasing a willingness to learn
  • Empowering students to understand themselves and others through comparison of cultural values, different worldviews and ways of life
  • Increasing personal independence through curiosity and exploration in another country
  • Exploring and understanding “difficult differences” such as racial, ethnic, gender inequality, human rights, freedom, power and economies
  • Strengthening ability to adapt to diverse situations
  • Strengthening ability to problem-solve

Process for Completing a PRE Study Abroad Experience

Step 1: Project Initiation

Students are responsible for initiating study abroad, either by enrolling in a course in the GWU Department of World Languages, or by expressing interest to and meeting with the GWU Director of International Programs. The experience must be approved by the GWU Office of International Programs.

Step 2: Complete the PRE Student Application

The Project Supervisor indicated on the application will depend on which option the student chooses:

  • Study Abroad with partner schools: GWU Director of International Programs
  • Course in GWU World Languages Department: Professor of course
  • Bonner Project: Professor of course traveling with students

 Step 3: Assessment

Students will complete a Professional Development Unit which consists of 3 parts: Pre-departure, On-site and Re-entry. This unit will help students develop and reflect on things such as personal goals for study abroad, learning about their own and another culture, and transferrable skills and how they relate to professional goals.

Assessment for these PRE courses will be in the form of a letter grade earned by the student for the successful

completion of the course. For GWU courses, the grade will appear on the student’s GWU transcript. For those students who study abroad at a partner university, they will be responsible for obtaining a transcript from the university and submitting to the GWU Director of International Programs. 

For students enrolled in the GWU World Languages study abroad courses, language assessment/placement testing should apply to any returning student who wishes to continue his/her studies of a foreign language, no matter whether this is part of a major, a minor, or no specific concentration.

Step 4: Evaluation and Follow-Up

*Students desiring to appeal the evaluation of a Study Abroad PRE must follow the normal grade appeal process

  • At completion of study abroad, student must provide a transcript from the host institution, given to GWU Office of International Programs or GWU Department of World Languages and Cultures

PRE Service-Learning

What It Is:

Service-learning programs are distinguished from other approaches to experiential education by their intention to benefit the provider and the recipient of the service equally, as well as to ensure equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring. To do this, Service-learning programs must have solid academic context where experiences are designed to ensure that both the service recipient and provider are enhanced and inspired through the project.

In the context of the PRE, students will grapple with an experience that fosters the discovery of their gifts, talents, and limitations. Approved experiences will include service that meets an identified and well-researched need (local or global), demonstrates critical and creative thinking, involves interaction with service recipients, and engages the student in service activity over a significant period of time. While the work may culminate in a single event, students are encouraged to create sustainable projects.

What This PRE Looks For:

Service-Learning is a viable high-impact experience under the following criteria:

  • Academics from the classroom and research merge with service to the local and global community.
  • The combination of academic rigor, meaningful service, and life experience foster the enhancement of both the servant and the recipient.
  • Students who serve expand their knowledge, understanding and comprehension of valuable interactions and methods for making a positive contribution to society and culture.
  • Community partners are engaged and/or created to ensure the ongoing impact of the service provided.

In order to create a Professional Readiness Experience (PRE), Service-Learning requires the following:

  • Prerequisite: One service-related courses that require at least 10 hours of service and assessment of that service. (University 111 or other)
  • Research and discovery of the most legitimate needs of a community that a student can potentially address; and clear connection of academic study to that need.
  • Written plan that includes:
    • 40+ hours of service, 10 of which can include community-based participatory research.
    • Plan for sustaining expenses and resources.
    • Agreement from a supervisor. This can be the Director of the Center for Christian Ethics and Social Responsibility, or other faculty with experience in Service-Learning.
    • Approval from the director of the Center and/or the Service-Learning Advisory Council.

Examples of Possible Service-Learning Opportunities:

  • Work with low-performing schools while researching impact of poverty on education (Social Sciences, Religious Studies, School of Education)
  • Coordinate work with local churches/organizations that work with homeless populations, such as Miracle Hill, to better understand homelessness (Psychology, Economics, School of Nursing)
  • Engage the campus and local community in an educational/action program to promote recycling (Sciences, Religious Studies, Psychology/Sociology)
  • Start a program of health screenings and education for underserved populations (Nursing, PA program, Exercise Science)

What Students Will Learn:

Project Supervisor and student will develop student learning outcomes specific to the PRE, prior to the experience.

General learning areas to which this experience will contribute are:

  • Comprehend the importance of building mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships.
  • Understand process of researching and defining “legitimate need.”
  • Recognize problems and possibilities of identifying and meeting needs on either a local or global level.
  • Gain understanding of the efficacy of meaningful, impactful service.
  • Create and analyze both anecdotal and hard data to determine best practices for acting within a community or culture.
  • Evaluate choices about vocation and calling, and how these choices might empower future service for both God and humanity.
  • Build vocational abilities that will create opportunities and options, preferably with an ongoing commitment to serve others in some capacity.

Process for Completing a PRE Service-learning Project

Project Supervisor

The procedures and protocol for these experiences will be overseen by the Service-Learning Advisory Council, under the leadership of the Center for Christian Ethics and Social Responsibility. This will involve faculty and staff with expertise in the field of high impact service-learning experiences.

Initiation

Students would offer a proposal for their project through the Center for Christian Ethics and Social Responsibility. The Center would then connect with appropriate faculty/departments/schools, and forward the proposal to the Service-Learning Advisory Council for final approval. Departments or schools can collaborate with the Center director to create viable service-learning classes to meet the criteria of a high impact experience. The Advisory Council would then receive the final proposal and endorse its designation as high impact service-learning.

Assessment

  • Regular meetings with supervisor (bi-weekly minimum).
  • Students would submit weekly journal entries that reflect personal growth, greater understanding/research surrounding service, and progress towards completion of the project.
  • A final paper/presentation that includes evaluation of the impact of the project on the student and the service recipients. This should include a personal reflection on how the project impacted the student’s sense calling and preparedness for future study or vocation.
  • Departments and schools would include these pieces as a part of the requirements in their endorsed service-learning classes. They could also request the help of the Center and Advisory Council in evaluating final papers/presentations. The Center could also request that projects be forwarded as artifacts and evidences of Service-Learning outcomes.

Evaluation

  • Stakeholders would fill out surveys to determine the effectiveness of the project(s). Students would have to return surveys before receiving any possible academic credit.
  • Service-learning Advisory Council and Office of Career Development would determine if the number of students, departments, and schools participating warrants the continuation of the Service-learning in the list of high impact practices.
  • They would then collaborate on necessary changes to make Service-Learning more effective as a career preparation option.

*Students desiring to appeal the evaluation of a Service-Learning PRE must follow the normal grade appeal process.

PRE Student Leadership

What it is:

This learning experience will provide students of any major with a two-tiered approach for developing and practicing basic leadership skills as they prepare for professional work while addressing legitimate needs locally or globally. Students are encouraged to collaborate with community/global partners and align these experiences with their personal strengths and prospective career paths.

Approved experiences must provide an opportunity for the student to lead others through the planning, implementation, management and assessment of a sizeable project that addresses a legitimate campus, community or global problem or need.

What This PRE Looks For:

Approved experiences must:

  • Include a minimum of 50 hours of documented work time on the project and extend for the duration of at least one semester.
  • Address a legitimate problem or need with a proposed solution.
  • Include oversight by a designated faculty/staff mentor in conjunction with the Office of Student Leadership Development and Community Engagement to insure that the criteria approved is maintained throughout.
  • Include a plan for sustainability, cost and resources.
  • Include weekly journal entries logging a detailed account of the experience with guided prompts for specific reflection at appropriate intervals.
  • Include scheduled mentor progress meetings to provide guidance at appropriate intervals throughout the experience.
  • Provide a detailed assessment/reflection report evaluating and demonstrating the effectiveness of their leadership and its outcomes upon completion of the experience.

Examples of Possible Leadership Opportunities:

  • After school drama program for a local school
  • Job skills program for local people in transition or homeless
  • Nutrition/education programs for a local school
  • Community garden program for low-income neighborhoods
  • Transportation program for local elderly or disabled
  • Micro-loan program for impoverished community abroad
  • Local/global small business incubator projects

What Students Will Learn:

The Project Supervisor and student will develop student learning outcomes specific to the PRE, prior to the experience.

General learning areas to which this experience will contribute are:

  • Define leadership in terms relative to their career objectives.
  • Describe and use their top five themes of talent to enhance their personal leadership tendencies.
  • Assess personal performance in leadership roles served in.
  • Identify and distinguish the characteristics of both effective and poor leadership within a given context.
  • Develop and implement a personal plan for aligning leadership opportunities with their strengths.
  • Demonstrate the ability to develop and pursue SMART goals aligned with their personal strengths relative to their chosen career path.
  • Demonstrate the ability to solve problems effectively using critical thinking skills.
  • Establish and demonstrate effective time management skills.
  • Identify and integrate practices for creating effective leadership teams.
  • Develop collaborative relationships for accomplishing agreed upon goals.
  • Adapt and reinforce communication strategies for leading effectively.
  • Collaborate effectively to plan, implement, manage and assess a project that addresses a legitimate campus, community or global problem or need.
  • Assess the outcomes of their experience and apply this to future career goals.

Process for Completing a PRE Leadership Program:

The procedures and protocol for this experience will be overseen by a Leadership Experience Advisory Team lead by the Director of the Office of Student Leadership Development and Community Engagement and comprised of select faculty and staff who will oversee the development, execution and assessment of each experience.

Step 1: Complete the PRE Student Application

  • Connect with the Center for Personal and Professional Development to indicate intention of completing this option.

Step 2: Next Steps

The first tier provides a foundation for developing self-awareness and basic leadership competencies with opportunities for students to discover and apply their strengths, passions and purpose to guide them as they design a practical leadership experience for tier two.

  • Attend the LEAD Summer Institute as an incoming freshman.

or

  • Complete the StrengthsQuest Assessment and reflection assignments.
  • Attend the two-part “Strengths Finder Workshop”
  • Attend the “Make it Happen” workshop to learn how to design, propose, implement, sustain, and assess solutions to problems and needs worth addressing.
  • Read: Rath, T. & Conchie, B. (2009). Strengths Based Leadership. New York: Gallop Press.

and

Design and submit a proposal for their Tier 2 experience with oversight of a designated faculty/staff member. These proposals will be reviewed/approved by a project advisory team comprised of staff and faculty with oversight by the Office of Student Leadership Development and Community Engagement. Student proposals will need to demonstrate how they will put into practice the relevant knowledge and skills acquired in the exploration tier to continue to develop these in preparation for leadership in professional work. Students will learn how to design their proposal through the workshops in tier one.

  • Students will submit proposals by email to the Center for Personal and Professional Development.
  • Proposals will be reviewed/approved by Leadership Advisory Team in consultation with the student.
  • Once the proposal is approved, students will complete tier two outlined as follows:

Step 3: Completion of PRE

Once a student’s has completed the exploration tier and their proposal is approved, they will apply and practice the competencies explored in tier one by implementing their proposed project with oversight from the Leadership Experience Advisory Team. Students are also required to attend the “Highly Effective Teams Workshop” before or during the semester in which they are completing tier two.

Assessment

Students will submit a detailed assessment/reflection report evaluating and demonstrating the effectiveness of their leadership and the specific project outcomes upon completion of the experience. Final reports will be reviewed by the Leadership Experience Advisory Team to insure that the intended learning outcomes are fulfilled. Once this is confirmed, a grade of pass/fail will be submitted to the Registrar’s Office. Should a student desire to file an appeal contesting the evaluation of their Leadership PRE, the normal grade appeal process will be followed.