Competency Development Through Virtual Internships

Concurrent Session 8

Brief Abstract

Education has roughly 10M Online learners. School Districts have students needing to develop 21 Century Competencies. The ability to deliver real Experiential Learning opportunities for students is a huge challenge. We have solutions that provide the required experience to address the skills gap and change the direction of Student success.


Dr. Kevin Cojanu has been teaching for over 14 years and continues to perfect his version of Experiential Learning through his Company Pole Star Experiential Learning. He has been teaching, mentoring and developing students to become solid career minded successes. Thousands of virtual interns later his innovations in Experiential Learning brings experience leadership of an efficient and valued service product to change the readiness for employment and Competencies through experiences students gain that will differentiate them in the workforce and address the skills gap. Dr. Cojanu has a Ph.D. from Capella University, MS in eCommerce and BS in Business from National Louis University, and is completing an MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Kaplan University.
Sheri Thoman is a leader in nutrition and wellness advocacy experienced in education and developing flexible learning plans for individual growth and development. I am very excited to be a part of Pole Star Experiential Learning to build and expand career pathways that navigate and guide the future healthcare workforce toward professional excellence. One that focuses on person-centered care and integrative medicine. We do this by creating personalized learning opportunities through virtual internships and with proprietary innovation to develop, measure and improve career performance. Currently, Sheri is pursuing a Master's Degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine with the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science from Kaplan University and has studied Naturopathy at Clayton College of Natural Health. Her passion for Holistic Health began with her own children when her daughter was diagnosed with a neurological disorder at the age of three. This passion continues to drive her to not only help others with their physical health goals but with their career health as well as balanced practices in all aspects of life bring success.
Peggy Vangorder is a seasoned Accounting Professional that offers 14+ years of experience helping those in food & beverage industry understand their financial position. I own my own virtual business, Meer’s Accounting and Consulting. I help small businesses to achieve their dream; by providing accounting services to fit, their business needs. I joined Pole Star Experiential Learning to guide the company thru their financial needs and to assist in the development of interns. I help interns achieve their knowledge base of what is needed financially to achieve business goals, understanding how to budget a project and analyze data. I ensure those that wish to work in the accounting field that they take their book knowledge and put it into practice with the use of Quick Books Online and developing the communication skills to express financial goals in a language the audience will understand. During school, I often heard from newly graduated accounting students how I am supposed to get a job without experience? I am excited about Pole Stars Experiential Learning process that fills the gap between theory and practice. I received my Master’s in Accounting in 2016 from Kaplan University.

Extended Abstract

Educational systems have roughly 10M Online and millions of Campus learners. School Districts have students needing to develop 21st Century Competencies. The ability to deliver real Experiential Learning opportunities for students is a huge challenge. We have solutions that provide the required experience to address the skills gap and change the direction of Student success.

The "Skills Gap" has become the key buzz phrase across almost all industries. The ability to provide Practice for students who are in High School and College through internships is becoming harder to acquire. Some issues that impact this include risk management concerns regarding High School students being safely transported to employer work sites, as well as general work safety issues while onsite. Additionally, we want to make sure the quality of the experience provides experiential learning that delivers on Core Competencies and is assessed based on real Experiential Learning.

Our Professional Edge Platform (PEP) is designed to deliver and assess Personal Learning of core professional competencies through application and capture of evidence of the successes and failures the virtual Intern will experience working for a Company in our consortium. Also, we partner with innovation leader to increase the knowledge and application of Experiential Learning that transfers across careers. Our Direct Competency Coaching, assessment, and capturing evidence is what we believe will "Let us put some PEP in your professional step.”

Companies today are seeking experienced workers that have these Core Competencies:

  • Writing proficiency
  • Public speaking skills
  • Data analysis - programs like Excel
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Attention to Detail/Focus
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership qualities
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Business Technology skills in areas such as CRM (Strauss, 2016)

We, at Pole Star Experiential Learning, deliver these skills identified by employers! We immerse the Virtual Intern deep into the process in a controlled environment where the Virtual Interns will work and gain needed Competencies through experience within our Consortium of Companies. Experiencing real-world expectations, making real-world decisions, and having the opportunity to make real world mistakes and be given the opportunity to correct those mistakes. Our Competency Coaches engage at the business level and in the curriculum within the Professional Edge Platform (PEP), so the experience and assessment are complete and have meaning for the student’s success.

Dr. David Kolb said it best, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”

At Pole Star Experiential Learning We Live this Mantra!

Kevin A. Cojanu, Ph.D.

Founder and President of Pole Star Experiential Learning



Strauss, K., (2016) These Are The Skills Bosses Say New College Grads Do Not Have., Forbes Magazine., Retrieved from