Research shows that college internships can be one of the quickest routes to full-time employment after graduation. In a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 83 percent of companies surveyed said the primary focus of their internship program is to feed their full-time hiring program. The same survey showed that 92 percent of those companies plan to hire interns in the coming year.
That’s one of the reasons why Wake Forest involves students in the internship process very early in their college years, said Patrick Sullivan, associate director of experiential education at Wake Forest University. The emphasis on internships is part of a larger effort to encourage students to think about their careers from their first year and be intentional about what they’re choosing to be involved in during their four years on campus.
This past summer, Wake Forest provided $3,000 stipends to 51 students who landed internships in entrepreneurial companies or nonprofits. The stipends were funded through endowments and grants created specifically for this purpose.
“I’ve learned that, while my education is incredible, there are some things that I will not learn without working,” said Maximilian Jacobs, a junior who received a stipend for interning at Santa Monica, California-based NXTM, an entrepreneurial company that provides music creators with an array of online tools to increase exposure and revenue.“The internship provided hands-on experience while helping me build my personal motivation.”
Other students like Leigh Cooper, chose to travel abroad for their work experience. Cooper spent two months, interning for the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) in Peru, where she helped prepare a walkway though the canopy of the cloud forest for ecotourism. “When you sign up to work for an NGO, you better plan on doing work you never imagined. Or at least that’s what I learned,” she said. “I did more than I expected and was able to see more of what really goes on in an entrepreneurial organization: multitasking. But the good thing about working such a wide-ranging job is that it never gets boring.”
For some students, the internship provided the experience they needed to land a full-time job. Wake Forest graduating senior Ali Jones worked in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, with organizations that provide micro-financing to local entrepreneurial groups. Upon her return, she began working as assistant director for philanthropy at the local chapter of the American Red Cross. “During my internship, I did some hard work and learned a great deal about both a grassroots NGO and a micro-loan program. I am truly fortunate to have had this experience, and will undoubtedly benefit both personally and professionally in the future. In fact, I plan to continue some long-distance work with both of the organizations for whom I interned.”
To learn more about these and other Wake Forest student internships, visit the Office of Personal and Career Services’ website.
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