AEOP replaces ‘apprenticeships’ with ‘internships’ in new title, messaging efforts

Rebrand aims to provide more clarity to community within the Army Educational Outreach Program

High school students who were part of the Army Educational Outreach Program last summer presented research after working for eight weeks with professors at Louisiana Tech on biomedical and chemical engineering projects. Rochester Institute of Technology’s K-12 University Center administers AEOP Internships and Fellowships, formerly known as AEOP Apprenticeships and Fellowships, on behalf of the U.S. Army. The new name provides the same services that offer opportunities for high school through postdoctoral individuals, with real-world research experiences at labs across the country. In January, its name changed to help provide more clarity for the program.

Different name, but same great program. That’s what Army Educational Outreach Program Internships and Fellowships, formerly known as AEOP Apprenticeships and Fellowships, provides to its stakeholders.

With the replacement of “apprenticeships” to “internships,” Director Donna Burnette said the intent is to better clarify the program’s meaning. It’s something that complements its offerings, while distinguishing it from a registered apprenticeship campaign through the Department of Labor that comes with a particular meaning, and associated set of skills and trades, which AEOP under the “apprenticeships” name did not align with.

“I think there is more clarity and our ability to firmly lean into the brand by calling it ‘internships’,” Burnette said. “We’re focusing on career interests to career development, so our words have to match with that messaging.”

Originally called AEOP Apprenticeships, Rochester Institute of Technology, through its K-12 University Center, was awarded the contract to administer the program in 2016. That was followed by securing a multimillion-dollar grant to then include the fellowships part of the program that provides STEM career opportunities for postgrad students and individuals seeking civilian work within the Department of Defense.

“With using ‘apprenticeships,’ it became confusing to the public about what that actually meant, especially with the focus on the government’s program,” Burnette said. “I made the recommendation to the Army to consider a rebrand with the word ‘internships’ instead, because it’s a clearer identity of the program. When they put this on their résumés, we want it to be obvious about what they’re doing.”

AEOP Internships and Fellowships is the umbrella term for a variety of Army-funded programs that provide high school through postdoctoral individuals with real world experiences in science, technology, engineering and math, by working alongside professional scientists and engineers at U.S. Army Labs and partner universities across the country.

Internships, like apprenticeships, provides these opportunities for high school and undergraduate students. Fellowships are intended for postgrad through postdoctoral individuals.

“It’s a different name, but same great service,” Burnette said. “It’s one initiative with common resources. RIT does the behind the scenes work, and our participants get things like the learning hub and speaker series, on top of the work they’re already doing in the labs. The move to ‘internships’ says something about getting career experience, and it’s our opportunity to really lean into the common-known definition of what an internship is, which was once defined as an apprenticeship.”


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