School of Communications Internship Program Implements New Success Plans using Starfish

School of Communications Internship Program Implements New Success Plans using Starfish

The pandemic presented many challenges for internship seekers and internship host sites beginning in March when precautions like Shelter in Place were implemented for employees and interns' safety at most businesses and organizations. It also presented an opportunity to reimagine the School of Communications Internship Program. Trezette Dixon, director of the program, has set up the Success Plans for students who want to do internships.

Over the summer months, Dixon worked diligently with Erica Ellard, director of the Academic Resource Center and Starfish project co-lead, to create and implement the new School of Communications Internship Program Success Plans. This is a five-part plan that provides a task-oriented "To Do" List to guide students through the internship preparation, search, and acquisition process and ultimately lead to the internship class, MDST 4950 majors in the School of Communications, concurrently with their internship experience. 

"These plans have allowed me to effectively and efficiently assist students in the internship search process,” said Dixon. “It empowers students to take charge of their internship search and professional development with my coaching and the support of a familiar system. My creation of the plan and Erica’s expertise with the system made it easy to implement this new, well-organized process. Erica was extremely helpful and patient throughout the development and launch. I would encourage anyone who would like to simplify their workflow, and provide optimal support of students on their academic journey, to utilize this resource.” 

Internship Program Success Five-Step Plan

  • School of Communications Internship Program Success Plan Part I: Introduction/Overview
  • School of Communications Internship Program Success Plan Part II: Prepare for the Internship Search 
  • School of Communications Internship Program Success Plan Part III: The Internship Search 
  • School of Communications Internship Program Success Plan Part IV: Prepare for the Internship Course, MDST 4950 
  • School of Communications Internship Program Success Plan Part V: Internship Experience Completion 

Each plan has specific tasks to move students through the individual plan and the overall process. As students complete each task, Dixon or her colleague John Holste, assistant director, Career Development, in the Career Planning and Development Center and liaison to the School of Communications, clear the "To Do" so students can see their progress and work on the next "To Do" or Plan as applicable.

The Success Plans' management is simple and easy for Dixon and Holste to provide clear guidance and communication to students. Students who have been assigned the Internship Program Success Plans thus far are already seeing the value in the Success Plans from their perspective.

“The internship program success plan is a great way to keep the internship-search process from becoming too overwhelming for students,” says Hannah Myers, senior, Media Communications and Film, Television and Video Production major. “The modules are segmented clearly and progressively build off each other as you move further in your plan. I love how easy it is to access, and it feels so rewarding when tasks get marked off as completed. The success plan has been one of the most comprehensive parts of my internship journey so far!” 

Supporting students and faculty and staff members, making people’s jobs and lives more efficient and enjoyable, and improving communications are all goals of the Student Success Portal, powered by Starfish, and these Success Plans are having the desired effect and outcomes.   

"I really enjoyed working with Trezette to best leverage the Student Success Portal to meet her needs and the needs of the students with whom she works," said Ellard. "We had a few meetings and email conversations, and as she plotted out students' tasks and progress toward their internships, we were able to design a detailed set of Success Plans to help Trezette and the students with whom she works. To further streamline processes and communications, we added the referenced meeting types into the Student Success Portal to allow students to clearly identify their meeting purposes and match the relevant Success Plan. It takes very little time for faculty and staff to get acquainted with the various features of the Student Success Portal and use the system to best support their work and student success.” 

How to Get Started

Other faculty and staff members interested in creating and using Success Plans, or other features, in the Student Success Portal can reach out to Erica Ellard at 314-246-7702 or or Kyle McCool, senior director of Academic Advising and Starfish project co-lead at 314-246-7497 or

Connect with the Student Success Portal team at or complete the  Enhancement Request form. 

Click here to learn more about the Student Success Portal

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