For more than a dozen Fairfield University students, their return to class this week may involve a slightly longer commute. Instead of crossing the 200-acre campus in Fairfield, they will be traversing I-95 or hopping Metro North to begin their spring semester internships for the city of Bridgeport.
The internship initiative was announced Jan. 23 during a celebratory event in the mayor’s office, and is the result of months of discussion in which Fairfield University and city officials worked collaboratively to build on the economic development priorities of the city and at the same time, enhance the educational opportunities for Fairfield students.
“This internship initiative is another fine example of our proud partnership with Fairfield University and we are thrilled to have so many students participating this semester,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch as he welcomed the students. “This program will allow students an opportunity to gain real-world experience prior to graduation, which is very important, especially in the current economic environment.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to receive hands-on experience with the workings of a major city across a spectrum of departments and areas of focus,” said Jeffrey P. von Arx, university president. “We emphasize at Fairfield just how important it is for real-world experience to be integrated with the classroom, so this partnership is ideal in that respect. We also feel that this is an opportunity for our University to contribute to the city of Bridgeport, to put ourselves to work in the service of the city’s growth and development, and to actively and concretely express how fortunate we feel that we are to be a part of the fabric of the city and the greater Bridgeport area.”
The students, most all of whom are in their senior year, will be working in a variety of city departments and offices, including the mayor’s office (communications), animal shelter, city attorney, human resources (labor relations, civil service) and sustainability.
This effort on the part of Fairfield University is part of a long-term and larger commitment to the neighboring city and there are already in place myriad ties to Bridgeport.
“Nearly 100 of our faculty and staff live and raise their families in Bridgeport and there are more than 1,100 Fairfield alumni who live and or work here. In addition, the Webster Bank Arena is home court for the Fairfield Stags basketball program. So in every important respect the health and vibrancy of the City of Bridgeport and that of Fairfield University go hand in hand,” von Arx said.