Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM) Bridges Projects 

VAM Bridges

Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM) Bridges Projects 

Bridges is an initiative to connect UVA alumni and students through project-based work. UVA alumni post short-term, well-defined projects that students can complete in approximately 10-40 hours across 2-5 weeks. Students gain real-world project experience that they can put on their resumes. Alumni gain support, increased productivity, and delegation/supervision experience. Most importantly, Bridges is an opportunity for UVA alumni and students to build meaningful relationships!


What do Bridges Projects Look Like? 

  • Well-Defined Deliverable 
    • Short-term, well-defined projects you would give a new hire/intern/contractor that have clear deliverables. All industries welcome! 
  • Resume-Worthy Experience 
    • Project work should complement the work of paid employees and provide significant educational benefit to the student that they can put on their resume. 
  • Paid Projects Preferred 
    • The UVA Career Center recommends you pay students for project work to increase accessibility to all students. 
    • If necessary, unpaid projects should be for the educational benefit of the student. They should not be for work that would otherwise be completed by a paid employee. 
  • Flexible Deadlines Recommended 
    • Students must prioritize schoolwork, especially during the academic school year. 
  • Project Scope Recommendations 
    • 10-40 total hours, 2-5 weeks to complete.
    • Expect students to work approximately 5 hours per week or a mutually agreed upon schedule.
    • Projects exceeding 40 total hours will require further review to determine if they belong in another program at the Career Center.
 
We are seeking new projects from alumni in four key areas: Public ServiceBusiness/Data AnalysisSustainability, and Entrepreneurship (Start-ups). Explore project opportunities today!  

SPRING 2022 BRIDGES PROJECT SEASON TIMELINE 

  • Project sponsor proposal deadline – Sunday, February 13th
  • Projects approved by – Monday, February 28th
  • Student project priority application deadline – Sunday, March 6th at 11:59pm
  • Student project completion deadline – Sunday May 1st at 11:59pm

**Timelines are highly recommended to optimize student interest and availability in projects, though exact dates are flexible**

Earn Your Bridges Project Completion Certificate to Showcase on LinkedIn!
All UVA students who complete their Spring 2022 projects by Sunday May 1st 2022 and receive approval from their project supervisors will receive a certificate of completion. Please complete the project pathway in VAM by May 1st to receive your certificate. Certificates will be distributed mid-May 2022.

APRIL 2022 BRIDGES PROJECT STORYTELLING CONTEST - APRIL 29TH 2022, 10AM-1PM ET

Up to 10 student finalists who completed a project during the Fall of 2021 or the Spring of 2022 will be selected to present their Bridges project stories on April 29th 2022 from 10am-1pm ET. Visit Handshake to apply! 
  • Prize Tiers (Amazon gift cards)  
    • 1st Place - $250  
    • 2nd Place - $150  
    • 3rd Place - $100  
  • Finalist Selection Criteria 
    • Preference will be given to students completing unpaid projects  
    • Project Summary and resume clearly express the qualitative and quantitative contribution the student made to the project  
    • Student clearly expresses the transferable skills they gained from the experience  
  • Presentation Evaluation Criteria  
    • Storytelling Quality   
    • Project Plan Quality 
    • Presentation Design 
    • Presentation Elocution 

SUMMER 2022 BRIDGES PROJECT SEASON TIMELINE

  • Project sponsor proposal priority deadline – Sunday, March 27th
  • Projects approved by – Monday, March 28th
  • Student project priority application deadline – Sunday, April 17th at 11:59pm
  • Student project completion deadline – Sunday, July 31st at 11:59pm

**Timelines are highly recommended to optimize student interest and availability in projects, though exact dates are flexible**

Earn Your Bridges Project Completion Certificate to Showcase on LinkedIn!
All UVA students who complete their Summer 2022 projects by Sunday, July 31st 2022 and receive approval from their project supervisors will receive a certificate of completion. Please complete the project pathway in VAM by May 1st to receive your certificate. Certificates will be distributed mid-August 2022.
 
Previous Projects  
Public Service, Government, and Education Projects: 
  • Support Fundraising for a New Women’s Halfway House 
    • We've noticed a need to support women who have been recently released from incarceration to help them thrive on their journey to reintegrate with society.  We've created a business and have some funding to work towards creating a halfway house for women in Charlottesville and surrounding counties that will support women that are homeless. However, we need support in finding grants to fund this service and developing a viable business model that is sustainable. 
  • Research Analysis of Grants, Funding, and High-Net-Worth Donors to support Educational Equity Programs  
    • Analyze and collect data surrounding best practices for grant writing and acquiring funding in supporting educational equity programs and determining who are high net worth individuals and donors that can be contacted for partnerships and how they can be contacted.  
  • Research E-Learning, Blended Learning, & Flipped Classrooms 
    • Conduct research on how to design, develop, and deliver online language learning experiences using a blended and flipped classroom approach. 
Business-Related Projects: 
  • Draft Initial Budget for an Emerging Nonprofit 
    • Help draft initial budget for emerging nonprofit. Conduct research on how to draft a budget and any relevant research that will help develop initial budget. Document, cite, organize, and summarize/synthesize research.  
  • Perform SEO Analysis 
    • Identify and implement strategies to increase website traffic for a start-up. Help management decide which tactics/strategies to pursue. Then, with management assistance, implement one or more of the most valuable strategies. 
Sustainability Projects: 
  • Conduct Market Analysis to Inform Communications Strategy on Climate Resiliency 
    • Conduct interviews and analyze existing communications to create a SWOT analysis to inform a new communications strategy for an urban climate resiliency program. Challenges include engaging underrepresented groups on the long-term issue of climate change, during COVID-19-induced in-person meeting restrictions. 
  • Waste and Social Equity Mapping Project 
    • Showcase intersecting types of inequity that create barriers to participate in sustainability efforts by centering community engagement, or lack thereof, with local composting programs.
  • Create GIS Map 
    • Create a zoning data layer for a small community using GIS software. Project will involve analyzing, cleaning, and merging several data layers to create one GIS compatible shapefile.  
Business-Related Projects:
  • Pinterest Marketing Manager 
    • Research Pinterest and provide a deliverable on the best ways to use Pinterest for business. We will provide training classes and we encourage self-study of the platform as well. The student will also create pins from provided graphics and practice uploading them to the platform. 
  • Support Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing for Social Justice Documentary 
    • Conduct research and write compelling content related to the Film Industry. Generate and draft new content, as well as review existing content. 
  • Video Assembly and Editing Social Media Elements 
    • Work on video editing, cutting, assembly and editing of social media elements. 

Student Instructions and Expectations 

Apply for Bridges Projects 

  • Students must have a VAM account to apply for Bridges Projects. If you don’t already have your VAM account set up, visit virginia.alumnimentoring.edu to activate your account.  
  • Some projects require additional materials such as a resume or cover letter. Review your resume or cover letter with a Career Center counselor during drop-in hours or create an appointment. 
  • Submit your application.  
  • You should hear back from the project poster within a few weeks about the status of your application. If you do not hear back after two weeks, it is professional to message the project poster on VAM to re-emphasize your interest in the opportunity and inquire about the status of your application. 

If Selected to Work on a Project 

  • If you are selected to work on a project, the project poster will mark you as “Hired” in VAM and you will gain access to a virtual Project Pathway that provides project planning resources and opportunity to reflect. We expect you to complete this pathway so that we know the status of your work and can celebrate the completion of your project! 

If Not Selected to Work on a Project 

  • Great work putting yourself out there! The UVA Career Center is here to support you as you apply to additional opportunities. Make an appointment with one of our Career Counselors to strategize ways to gain experience and build meaningful relationships to support your career exploration.  

Bridges FAQs – Students

What Is the Project Pathway? 
The Pathway will guide you along the path of eventually submitting your final project. This Pathway is meant to provide guidance to students. Project posters cannot see your progress within the Pathway.  
 
Why Do I Have to Update my Status on VAM?  
We appreciate students updating their status (“In Progress,” “Completed,” etc.) on VAM for our tracking purposes and to make sure students are successful in completing their projects. 

As an International Student, Do I Need Additional Approval to Complete a Bridges Project? 

Students with F-1 visa status must receive F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Authorization before completing any Bridges project work.  Please review the most current International Studies Office’s (ISO) information on CPT authorization to apply. Please know this process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Check on ISO on eligibility for CPT
  2. If eligible for CPT, apply to the desired projects
  3. If you are selected to work on a project, email mentoring@virginia.edu to obtain an offer letter of employment for the project
  4. After receiving signed offer letter of employment, contact ipp@virginia.edu to enroll in UNST 2820
  5. Complete the CPT form and attach the offer letter
  6. After CPT has been formally approved, the student may begin project work during the dates authorized 

Can I Still Get a Certificate If I Have Not Completed My Project by the Season Deadline? 

Please contact mentoring@virginia.edu if your Bridges project has a timeline different than the typical season timeline to inquire about certificate eligibility.

Alumni Project Poster Instructions: Posting, Hiring, Launching, and Completing Project Work 

Post Project(s): 
  • Visit Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM) to post projects. You'll need to log in to your account to post a project; if you don't yet have an account, please sign up. We approve new users as soon as we can!
  • Include ample detail in your project description so students understand your expectations. A clear project description encourages qualified students to apply. 
  • Specify the total number of hours needed to complete your project in the “duration” field when posting your proposal. 
  • The VAM Team reviews project proposals weekly. Expect to hear back on the status of your project proposal within 1-2 weeks. If your project is approved, you will receive a notification that your project is now live to students.
Review Applicants and Hire: 
  • UVA students will be able to apply to your project after we approve your project proposal. You will receive an email each time a student applies. Please make sure that your notifications are turned on in your VAM profile so you don’t miss out on any great students! 
  • We recommend you review each student’s application materials and invite those that you think would be a great fit to an interview with you to discuss project deliverables, timeline, and learning goals. 
  • Mark the student(s) that you would like to hire as “Hired” in their application status. This provides the student with a Project Pathway for guidance and reflection throughout their project AND informs the VAM Team that you have hired a student.  
  • Please mark all other applicants as “Declined.” 

Launch Project Work:  

  • After you select the student(s) you would like to work on your project, we recommend you have a project kickoff meeting.  
  • It is your responsibility to encourage students to complete the Project Pathway provided in VAM. If students have any issues accessing the Project Pathway, please advise them to email mentoring@virginia.edu for support. We expect students to complete the Project Pathway so we know their status and when they are finished. 
  • Students can also reach out to additional VAM alumni for support throughout the duration of their project. 

Confirm Project Completion 

  • After your student(s) complete your project, please make sure they have fully completed their project pathway in VAM so we at the UVA Career Center can celebrate their success and award them a certificate of completion! 
  • We may also reach out to you to learn about your experience. 

Bridges FAQs – Alumni 

I Submitted a Project, What’s Next? 
Thank you for submitting a Bridges Project proposal! Our team reviews projects weekly during our active project seasons, so you will hear back on the status of your project in 1-2 weeks. If we approve your project, you will receive an automated email that your project is now live to UVA students.   
  
Can I Hire More Than One Student? 
Yes, you are able to hire more than one student for your project. Alumni have hired upwards of 20 students for one project! 
 
Can I Hire Another Student After I’ve Already Hired Students? 
The platform currently does not allow students to apply for projects that have already been filled with previous applicants. Project posters are also not currently able to manually add students to their projects that have already been filled. 
 
Can I Work with Students Outside of the VAM Platform? 
No. If you submit a project through our VAM Bridges program, please work with students in the platform so that students have access to project resources and so we can confirm project progress and completion. We use the project pathway as a tracking mechanism to award project completion certificates. 
 
My Project Was Approved, What’s Next? 
Hurray! Here are the next steps after project approval.  
  1. View our Project Sponsor Info Session Zoom Recording. Password: q!6CVKt2
  2. Review Student Applications  
    • UVA students will be able to apply to your opportunity after we approve your project proposal.  You will receive an email each time a student submits their application. Please make sure that your notifications are turned on in your VAM profile so you don't miss out on any great students!  
  3. Select Hires and Update Applicant Statuses  
    • We recommend that you review each student's application materials and invite those that you think would be a great fit to an interview with you to discuss project deliverables, timeline, and learning goals.
    • Mark the student or students that you would like to work on your project as "hired" in their application status so that they have access to a "Project Pathway" that provides guidance on their project work. Please mark all other students as "declined".  
  4. Launch Kickoff Meeting for Project Work with Hires 
    • After you select the students you would like to work on your project, we recommend you have a project kickoff meeting. Please remind students that they have access to a project planning pathway and resources through the VAM portal.  We expect students to complete this pathway so we know their project status and when they have completed the project. Students also can reach out to additional VAM alumni for support. 
  5. Confirm Project Completion
    • After your student(s) have completed your project, please make sure they have completed their project pathway in the VAM portal so we at the UVA Career Center can celebrate their success! We may also reach out to you to learn about your experience. 
What Resources Will Students Receive to Support Project Work and Completion? 
The Pathway will guide the seeker along the path of eventually submitting their final project. This Pathway is meant to provide guidance to students. Project posters cannot see the user's progress within the Pathway.  
 
Why is it Required for Students to Complete the Project Pathway? 
The Bridges Project Pathway provides tools and resources to support student project work and inspire meaningful reflection. It also allows the UVA Career Center to stay in the loop on project progress. All students who work on Bridges Projects must complete the pathway, and upon project sponsor approval, will receive a certificate of completion.  
 
My Project Hasn’t Received Any Applicants, What Can I do?  
There are a few potential reasons why you aren’t seeing engagement with your project posting. 
  • Your posting has expired, so students can no longer see your posting. To re-activate your posting, change your “project expires” date, AND switch the “inactive” button to “active.” 
  • Please make sure your project falls within the current season’s key industry/skill areas. If you post a project outside of those parameters, you might see fewer applicants. 
  • Every Bridges project we’ve seen can provide great value to UVA students, but sometimes the descriptions don’t capture the full excitement or intrigue of projects! If you would like assistance with crafting your description to appeal to students, please reach out to mentoring@virginia.edu

VAM Bridges Project Program Terms of Service

By submitting your project you are agreeing to the following terms between you, (the “Poster”) and the applicant (the “Project Recipient”). You must agree to these terms to post a project. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 
 
Payment for projects
If this project is a paid project, you, the Poster, are responsible for arranging payment with the Project Recipient. If payments for the project exceed $600 in any calendar year, the Poster is responsible for any necessary tax documents such as a W9 or 1099. 
 
Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act
If this is an unpaid project, the Poster is representing that this project meets the requirements of an unpaid internship, as outlined here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/71-flsa-internships. In general, unpaid projects should not be for work that would otherwise be completed by a paid employee. Unpaid projects should be for the educational benefit of the Project Recipient. 
If this is a paid project, the Poster is responsible for any necessary contractor agreements between the Poster and the Project Recipient. In general, the Project Recipient should be considered independent contractors. 
 
Intellectual property and confidentiality
If you, the Poster, expects to own the intellectual property of this project or expects a level of confidentiality, it is your responsibility to execute any necessary documents between you and the Project Recipient. Unless otherwise agreed to in writing, the Project Recipient will maintain intellectual property ownership and will not have an expectation of confidentiality. 
 
Non-discrimination policy
You, the Poster, agree to consider all Project Recipients equally, and acknowledge that discriminating against Project Recipients based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other protected category is strictly prohibited. 
 
Limitation of liability
This website is operating as a matching service between you, the Poster, and the Project Recipient. This website assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for, any loss, claim, damage, or any special, exemplary, punitive, indirect, incidental or consequential damages of any kind (including, but not limited to, lost profits or lost savings), whether based in contract, tort, strict liability, or otherwise, which arises out of or is any way connected with the website. This limitation of liability shall apply regardless of whether the claim asserted is based on contract, negligence, or any other theory of recovery.

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