UVA Launchpad is an intensive, eight-week University of Virginia program custom-built to prepare students for the world of work by combining liberal arts coursework, technical “bootcamp” style training, and career-focused projects.
These are difficult times, and this program was created to provide students an opportunity to grow academically and prepare for careers while staying safe and healthy at home.
We are no longer accepting applications for the Summer 2020 program, but please fill out the request for information form at the bottom of this page to stay updated on future UVA Launchpad programs.
Liberal Arts Education
New, custom-designed courses that teach the human skills employers value.
Project-Based Career Bootcamps
Learn high-demand skills in areas like data analysis, cybersecurity, and digital marketing. Complete real-world projects. No experience or prerequisites required.
A week of career workshops will help you connect your experiences—from inside and outside of the classroom—to maximize your career opportunities and move forward with confidence.
8 week online program
Students will take two UVA courses and two bootcamps, spread over two sessions and separated by a week focused on career development.
6 academic credits
Course credits are awarded through UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences. Students from other schools and universities should inquire with their institutions about transfer credits.
2 real-world projects
Complete two career-focused projects that you can refer to in your next internship or job interview.
Program Dates:June 15 – August 7
Who is this for?
This online program is built for rising second-, third- and fourth-year undergraduate students in UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences, but is also open to other students, including undergraduate students at other universities. Incoming first-year students are not eligible.
Summer 2020 Courses and Bootcamps
The initial UVA Launchpad program in Summer 2020 included a number of classes and bootcamps, separated by a week of career development activities. The titles and descriptions of those offerings can be found below. To stay updated on future UVA Launchpad programs, fill out the request for information form at the bottom of the site or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Research, Measurement, & StorytellingMatt Charles
Whether conducting a needs assessment, attempting to understand your audience, or developing a new product, communication professionals regularly harness the power of research, measurement, and storytelling. Divided into three parts that culminate in an individualized project, this course explores essential research methods; strategies for measuring the impact of communication interventions; and the fundamentals of telling data-driven stories that persuade stakeholders and demonstrate ROI. On their own, each of these pieces is informative; together they enable confident problem solving, enhance organizational decision-making, and influence external stakeholder behavior.
The Art and Science of Persuasive StatisticsKatie Daniel and Alexandra Silverman
No matter your career goals, we are all consumers of research. As such, this course will focus on building the student's ability to interpret output from standard statistical tests, communicate results persuasively to a lay audience, and discriminate between sound and unsound statistical arguments made by others. Data examples will be pulled from disciplines represented across the college of arts and sciences. Students will leave this course being more responsible consumers of research. No experience or prerequisites required.
Writing and Research for TelevisionSuzie Eckl
Suitable for students across the academic spectrum, this course will mimic the decisions that business decision-makers and creatives face everyday when developing and pitching ideas for consumers. The class will combine research, writing, analysis, and decision-making skills as you simulate what it is like to work in the television industry. You will each have the opportunity to think as producers, who create and pitch factual entertainment content; and as network executives, who analyze content with specific audience and business needs in mind. While the course centers on real-world, television-specific activities, lessons will apply to the creative and business landscape across many industries. By the end of this course, you will have had the opportunity to develop your writing voice, describe projects succinctly, pitch and assess proposals, interpret and analyze commercial content, and justify your own decision-making.
Media Ethics: Understanding and then Building a Better Media EcosystemStephen Marrone
Social media is one of the most prevalent, useful and potentially dangerous elements of modern life. How do we learn responsible practices for living in the digital media-driven world? In this class, students will engage with contemporary data, news and social media policy to better understand what the media ecosystem looks like and what role they can play in developing a more safe and accessible media landscape in the future. By placing contemporary social media company policies alongside philosophical ethical theories, students will learn reasoning skills that prepare them for careers that range from social media and website design, journalism and reporting, blogging and influence culture, to safe practices in personal digital media.
Emotional IntelligenceStephen Oliver
Whereas a person’s intelligence, knowledge and experience have long been thought to be key variables that would help predict success in life, brain and behavioral research now suggests that another factor—emotional intelligence—is actually a better indicator. The degree to which we are able to understand and manage our emotions appears to be the critical link between intelligence and emotional maturity that dictates how effectively we handle our careers, relationships and the stress inherent in life itself. This class will explore key concepts related to the development of core competencies that can increase emotional health, well-being and one’s ability to cope effectively with life’s stressors, i.e., emotional literacy skills.
Creating a Sustainable World Through Positive ChangeAngela Orebaugh
How do your decisions and actions affect the sustainability of the planet? What are the emotions that drive your decisions and actions? How can humans create positive change in the world? It’s 2020 and the world is facing a growing population and many complex problems impacting our planet. Human systems and natural systems are linked, and changing any part of either system has multiple, far-reaching impacts. Sustainability is affected, both positively and negatively, by the cascading effects of human decisions and actions. This course will help you become aware of your personal sustainability impact, take action to create positive change, and advocate for others to do the same.
Objectivity and Bias: Protecting Minority IdentitiesAlana Wilde
This course broadly focuses on issues of diversity and how these issues, which frequently affect and perpetuate the disadvantage of minority groups, can negatively impact marginalized community members. Week 1 of this course will focus on issues objectivity and objectification; the second week will look at biases and value judgements and their effects in advancing social harms; and in the final week we will examine the harms of holding beliefs which are damaging to those members of society who are already disadvantaged. The aim of the class is to develop students’ awareness of ethics, build emotional intelligence, aid in their ability to empower others, and ultimately advance professional integrity.
Data Analytics & Decision Making Using SpreadsheetsMajed Al-Ghandour
This course introduces students to the analytics process from question formulation through data gathering, data processing, and decision making. Through hands-on studies, exercises, readings, and a final project, students will utilize Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets with Add-ons. Data and case studies from different industries will provide students the opportunity to understand how analytics apply in a variety of contexts. Students will work in teams on a final project to explore, analyze, summarize and present findings in a real-world big data set.
This is a crash course in documentary audio production that will give students basic experience they can leverage toward jobs in the media, public service, education, entertainment and more. We'll begin with an introduction to existing models of audio storytelling, in podcasts and radio shows, then develop two short audio stories in a virtual workshop environment—planning, recording and editing a total of at least two interviews.
Phase one will involve listening closely to a favorite podcast: analyzing its format, style and content; back-engineering its development; and critiquing its overall quality. In phase two, students will conduct a short oral history with a family member, friend or acquaintance and learn the basics of editing. In phase three, working in pairs, you'll receive a real-world assignment to conduct a second interview. While not required, work produced in phase three may be matched to an existing media project, with the potential for later publication in collaboration with professional journalists.
Prior audio experience is not expected. Necessary equipment is limited to a mobile phone (for audio recording), a computer and free audio-editing software.
Multimedia Production BootcampBremen Donovan
In this introduction to multimedia storytelling and production, students will learn how to conceptualize, produce, shoot, edit, and publish their own short audiovisual pieces using simple equipment and techniques they can access from home. We will start with the foundations of multimedia storytelling and craft, including interviewing techniques, strategies for visual content gathering, aesthetic composition, project planning, compelling data use, and effective and persuasive communication. Students will be exposed to a variety of multimedia work in different domains, from journalism, to professional communications, to research, to policy. Then, through the production of their own short multimedia stories, students will develop concrete skills in audiovisual recording, non-linear editing, and publishing. The end result will be a finished multimedia piece ready to publish on a personal website or include in a professional portfolio.
The Art and Science of Digital Communications: Online Marketing and Impact StorytellingMatthew Weber
Being a savvy consumer and producer of digital media requires an underlining appreciation for what animates action. Why share that video or click on that story? Why are some campaigns more successful than others and how do you define success? Looking holistically at the myriad of platforms and strategies, from mobile to digital marketing, search engine optimization to content creation… this course explores the process of planning, targeting, creating, and thoughtfully analyzing interactive marketing campaigns designed to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. Using real world examples, case studies, and tools like Google Analytics throughout this course, students will learn the fundamentals of digital storytelling and online marketing through the hands-on development / analysis of an actual Digital Marketing Campaign.
Data Analytics w/ Python (class covers Session 1 & 2)Jon Kropko
Data is almost never ready to be analyzed without a great deal of work to prepare the data first. The goal of this course is to make this huge part of data analysis easier, faster, less frustrating, and more enjoyable. By the end of this course, students will be able to (1) recognize how to get help on code in a way that is accurate and efficient while demonstrating how to be a good citizen in online forums, (2) implement methods for acquiring electronic data and loading it into Python, (3) employ methods for cleaning data to prepare it for analysis, and (4) understand relationships in the data using visualization and summary statistics. This course begins with the single most important skill for a data scientist: how to find the help you need to solve the inevitable problems, errors, and anomalies that will occur as you code. After that, the course is divided into three parts. First, how do we acquire data? We will discuss external files with flat, tabular structure, JSONs, APIs, web-scraping, and remote SQL and NoSQL databases. Second, how do we clean data? We will cover SQL and pandas, including merging and reshaping dataframes. Third, how do we perform simple analyses to understand our data? We will work with summary and descriptive statistics tables, static visualizations using matplotlib and seaborn, and interactive visualizations using plotly.
Ethical Hacking for Public GoodAngela Orebaugh
The purpose of ethical hacking is to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in a target computer or network system. Ethical hackers work with consent under a strict code of conduct to document vulnerabilities and provide actionable advice for organizations to improve their overall security. Ethical hackers are needed to protect society from cyberattacks across a variety of public sectors including healthcare, education, voting, cities, and critical infrastructure.
This course explores the risks, threats, and vulnerabilities associated with the evolving cyber ecosystem. It provides the knowledge and skills required to understand the mechanics of hacking and to develop applicable countermeasures. Topics include information gathering, scanning, sniffing, social engineering, and hacking tools.
You will gain technical hands-on experience, in a cloud-based lab environment, with the tools and techniques used to assess the security of a target system. You will develop and apply high demand skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and analysis as well as creativity, persuasion, and verbal and written communication. The course includes a career-focused project to research and develop practical solutions to cybersecurity problems. The hands-on labs and associated course project will help you develop valuable technical skills and a resume-building applied project. You do not need prior experience with cybersecurity or programming knowledge.
Introduction to Brand Identity and StorytellingGahl Pardes
In this introduction to brand identity and storytelling, students will investigate what a brand is and how telling a brand’s story deliberately and engagingly can impact business growth. We will start with the foundations of identifying and articulating brand components and proceed to a variety of avenues for storytelling: building and protecting brand expression guidelines; how brand identity impacts UX; and implementation of brand identity into marketing creatives. While this course will touch on the conceptual backbone of a brand's visual design, its focus is on verbal expression: we will use words to tell an evocative marketing story.
Over a two-week capstone project, students will work with a non-profit/start-up to draw out and articulate the organization’s brand identity. The end result will be an actionable marketing deliverable: either a “brand bible”/brand expression presentation, or a branding creative concept, forming the foundations for a marketing campaign. This may include: a script, storyboard, and/or live pitch for a video creative; copy and wireframes for social media advertisements; a plan for an experiential/live marketing event; etc.