Internships Help Students Build Human Capital

March 18, 2011

Abril Tavarez Abril Tavarez

By Joe Velarde

While summer means “no classes” to some students from The University of Texas at El Paso, others will participate in one of the hundreds of internship and fellowship opportunities offered throughout the country.

“An internship/fellowship can lead to really big things,” said Stephanie Gerry, Director of Undergraduate Programs at the College of Business Administration (CoBA). “For newer students, it’s important to network among their peers and professors. This is where the process of finding out about certain internship opportunities begins.”

For example, the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2010 Student Survey reported that students who graduated after the 2010 spring and fall semesters received an average salary offer of $41,580 compared to $34,601 for those who did not participate in an internship.

“Students benefit greatly in developing their professional skills, whether major related or otherwise,” said Nick Zweig, coordinator for the Experiential Learning Program at the University Career Center. “(The students) have a chance to get a feel for their professional world they have chosen, which is often much different from the way they imagine it.”

According to the study, 42.3 percent of seniors who had an internship and applied for a job received at least one offer, as opposed to 30.7 percent of seniors without any experience.

When a company chooses a student for an internship or fellowship, they are making an investment in the development of that student, Gerry said.

“Opportunities like these are most often a much needed foot-in-the-door for these students,” she said. “It’s also an excellent chance for them to excel in his or her field. It makes the learning curve that much easier when they’re eventually picked for a full-time position.”

Abril Tavarez, a winter 2010 College of Business graduate, is one of the many students that made the transition from fellowship to full-time position. She works for Virginia-based Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

Tavarez gave credit to the Bill Archer Fellowship Program. “I asked about it and applied, but never thought it would’ve taken me as far as it has. It’s been a blessing,” she said.

According to its website, the Archer Fellowship was established by The University of Texas System in conjunction with former U.S. Rep. Bill Archer, (R-Texas), as a way to bring highly motivated and accomplished students to Washington, D.C., to participate in varied internships and participate in classes that focus on policy, economics, and persuasion.

For Tavarez, the fellowship opened the doors to the professional phase of her life. Upon her graduation, she was offered positions at Boeing, Lockheed Martin and some private El Paso companies. However, she chose to continue her work with the DLA.

“I couldn’t believe I had made it here. I would’ve never done it had I not asked about the fellowship,” she said. “This has been one of the most exciting moments of my life.”

Students are urged to talk with their counselors about summer and fall internship opportunities.

Stop by the Professional Development Center in Business Room 104 for more information.


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