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UNCW Touts Certified Internships At Event For Companies, Students

By Jenny Callison, posted Feb 19, 2016
University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Career Center has what it believes is a program that’s a win for area businesses as well as students looking for real-world experience.

The initiative, called the Certified Internship Program, or CIP, seeks to place qualifying students in companies where they will be useful and where they will have learning opportunities. It’s the focus of next Thursday’s Internship Summit, held in collaboration with UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We want to help businesses understand how to utilize interns,” Career Center director Thom Rakes said Friday.  “There’s been so much press about internships; businesses are sometimes leery about meeting requirements for interns. We tell them, ‘Here are the federal regulations; they are not hard to work with.’”

Rakes said that internships are learning experiences, even if the primary lesson for a student is that the business is not what he or she wants to pursue.

“It’s better to learn that during an internship than three months into the job,” Rakes said.

Most often, however, Rakes said an internship ends up being a “powerful experience” that gives a student some real-world experience and lets both the student and the employer look each other over.

The CIP is designed to ensure that the content of the internship is meaningful and that the student reflects upon and recognizes what he or she has learned, Rakes said. If students complete the internship and the CIP follow-up requirements, they receive a certificate and a notation on their transcript that they have completed an Exploration Beyond the Classroom, which is now a requirement for graduation at UNCW.

Thursday’s Internship Summit, which takes place at the CIE from 5 to 7:30 p.m., will provide information to businesses about the CIP and feature a speed interview hour afterward. For a $20 registration fee, a business can interview up to six students for a maximum of 10 minutes each. A networking reception afterward provides opportunity for follow-up discussion, according to Kate Davis, the CIE’s programs coordinator.

There is no charge for a business to attend the informational portion of the summit, she said Friday.

The CIE is collaborating with UNCW’s Career Center on the summit because it gives CIE tenants, clients and supporting businesses a chance to showcase themselves as potential internship placements, Davis said, adding that while an internship with a startup might not pay in terms of dollars, it can offer valuable experience.

“The intern is part of a team – more so than if they worked with a large company. A lot of our companies are just starting out, and they really need every aspect of help. It could be marketing, or sales or social media.”

Companies interested in learning more about the CIP or attending the Internship Summit should email the CIE through the center’s website.
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