October 27, 2014

Internship Program Benefits Students

Job internships are a proven way to learn about careers and gain work experience. Students get acquainted with the professional work environment in their field of study, while providing their respective employers with a temporary employee to facilitate their needs.

Finding the right fit for student and business can be complex, but in some cases it can lead to full-time employment after graduation.

Western Nevada College’s new internship coordinator, Chris Graham, is working to coordinate internship opportunities in a variety of career fields.

Graham, who also serves as the voice of Wildcats baseball, broadcasting games live online, is aiming to development new community partnerships that will benefit WNC students.

“I’m working with (Career and Technical Education Director) Sherry Black and (Tech Prep Coordinator) Kevin Edwards, the college staff and our partners to make this work. This is going to be a big success for the college, the students and the community as well,” Graham said.

Black developed the internship program last year, placing for 18 students, including 17 paid positions.

“Currently, a large majority of recent college grads are unemployed, underemployed or not working in their field of study. Internships are a great way for a student to gain experience, decide if the area of study is a good choice, and get a foot in the door.”

Students can also use an internship to develop additional skills, generate professional connections, build their resume and earn college credit.

Crystal Sandoval recently interned with the Carson City Department of Alternative Sentencing and came away from the experience with an appreciation of how the justice court operates. The WNC undergraduate also earned a volunteer contract with the department, which promotes public safety while holding those on probation accountable to the community.

“The experience that I had while doing this internship is phenomenal. You get to learn so much,” Sandoval said.

“You experience how the justice court works and what a big role they play in assisting our community. You also get to experience how it feels to be working with individuals who are held accountable to the community.”

Sandoval was the first intern in the Department of Alternative Sentencing’s Life Enhancement Academic Program. She focused her efforts on assisting individuals who were under the department’s supervision through formal probation or pretrial supervision.

“I work with individuals who committed a variety of crimes. It may sound scary, but it is such a great experience,” she said.

The department’s chief, Tad Fletcher, said he developed a vision for a future internship program after talking to a colleague in law enforcement in Annapolis, Md., in 2011.

“He mentioned how valuable internships are to departments, then we brought in Crystal and gave her a new program and let her run with it,” Fletcher said.

Sandoval helped people acquire their GED, gain employment and fill out resumes and job applications. She even helped arrange transportation for those in need.

“She did a great job and brought a lot of credibility to what we are doing, and the courts loved it,” Fletcher said. “We’re hoping to find another intern to keep the program going.”

Graham, a 2005 Carson High School graduate, has set an rudimentary goal of placing more than two dozen students in internships during the 2014-15 academic year.

“We have seven internships available and I haven't even been in the position a month yet. My goal is to have 30 internships this year, and I'll work to exceed that,” Graham said.

In order to be considered for an internship, students must prepare and submit a resume to Graham and indicate what type of internship interests them. Graham will then forward the resumes to the appropriate companies to find the best fit. Businesses will make the final decisions on students they wish to hire.

Student performance will be crucial to extending relationships with participating companies.

“The student is a reflection of the college, and the importance of good placement cannot be overstressed,” Black said. “When an internship is rewarding for the company, the company is more likely to accept another intern in the future.”

Internships are available in construction, business, law enforcement, technology, service industries and more. Education and experience vary so students shouldn’t delay learning more about the opportunities available to them.

“Some internships demand more student knowledge, while others are entry-level positions that require a good attitude and a strong work ethic,” Black said. “That will be one of Chris' challenges to understand what each internship demands and what qualities the student needs to be successful.”

Not only does an internship provide the student with real-life work experience, it often comes with compensation.

“When you think of an internship, you think of working for free, but a lot of companies out there are willing to pay,” Graham said.

Learn more about WNC’s internship program by contacting Graham at 775-445-4412 or chris.graham@wnc.edu.

For additional information, please contact:
WNC Information and Marketing Services
2201 W. College Parkway
Carson City, NV 89703
Phone: 775-445-3234
Fax: 775-445-3198
E-mail: info_desk@wnc.edu

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