Halpern Spearheads Virtual Internships in San Diego Region


While the world of work has changed a lot over the past few years, the way internships are completed remains largely the same. Joshua Halpern, Global Trade Deputy Sector Navigator in the San Diego region, is looking to change that with a virtual internship pilot program this summer.

Halpern became DSN in January and had not worked in higher ed before assuming the role. He previously worked as a foreign service officer in the International Trade Administration and launched the U.S. Commerce Department’s eCommerce Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley.

He is also the executive director of Getting to Global, an initiative that provides companies with the resources they need to grow their business through exports. The public-private partnership brings together companies like Facebook and Google and organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the Centers for International Trade Development.

Halpern hopes to bring his business and innovation skills to the global trade sector to expand opportunities for students and prepare them for jobs in an industry where change is the only constant.

The virtual internship program will allow students to work remotely with companies who do not have the resources to host an intern on-site, which Halpern says is a substantial number of companies in the global trade sector.

“Conservative estimates are as high as 25 percent of companies who would like interns, but can’t do so because they’re too small,” he said.

A program coordinator at Grossmont College will oversee students working remotely and meet with companies hosting them to make sure things are running smoothly. A pilot program is underway this summer, with plans to expand if it’s successful.

Halpern also hopes to use his experience in the global trade industry to enhance the connections between the working world and the classroom.

“Faculty and community colleges don’t need to listen to us, but they do need to listen to the businesses,” he said. “Putting faculty in front of employers lets them hear from the horse’s mouth and learn from the people who want to hire their students.” 

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