By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Internships are a valuable tool for college students.
They provide an opportunity to experience a career before graduation and improve employability skills such as teamwork, communication, self-management and problem-solving.
“We know how significant internships are in terms of job placement, pay and the overall impact they have on professional and personal development,” said Dustin Favinger, director of the College of Business and Technology Career Center at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“The odds of getting a full-time position before you graduate are higher if you complete an internship and our data also shows you’ll be paid more,” Favinger noted.
Among 2018-19 graduates from UNK’s College of Business and Technology, 42% completed an internship for academic credit. Two-thirds of those students received a job offer from the company they interned with.
The average starting salary for College of Business and Technology graduates who completed an internship for academic credit was $46,500 per year, which is $6,000 more than the average pay for other graduates within the college.
In a perfect world, every student from the College of Business and Technology would complete an internship, but UNK officials also understand there are certain obstacles students may face.
Internships are a major time commitment and they can bring additional expenses for students, especially if the internship is unpaid. UNK’s College of Business and Technology Career Center is addressing one of those obstacles through a new internship stipend program launched this year.
“We want to remove the barrier of money being the reason why a student does not complete an internship,” Favinger said.
Supported by a grant from the Principal Foundation, the Career Center is providing $500 stipends to students experiencing financial hardship so they can complete an internship through the College of Business and Technology.
The stipends, awarded based on financial need and internship requirements, help students pay for expenses such as travel, relocation, professional attire and living costs.
Annie Beckman, a senior from North Platte, is one of three UNK students who received financial assistance for the upcoming spring semester.
The family studies major will begin a 120-hour internship next month at Kearney Area Children’s Museum, where she’ll help plan and coordinate events and activities.
Beckman, who lives off campus, currently works about 40 hours a week at Pizza Hut to cover her rent, car payment and other bills, but she plans to reduce those hours next semester so she can focus on the internship.
“I don’t want to be working full time while I’m doing my internship so I can get the most out of the experience,” said Beckman, who will also take four classes next semester.
Beckman’s internship is unpaid, and her mother is currently ill, putting a strain on the family’s finances. The stipend will relieve some of the financial burden.
“It will help me with at least a month of bills,” Beckman said.
The College of Business and Technology Career Center will award additional stipends next semester for summer interns. The deadline for students to secure a summer internship and apply for the stipend is April 1.
For more information, visit www.unk.edu/cbt_internships or contact the Career Center at 308-865-8066.
The Career Center hopes to secure future funding to extend the stipend program beyond summer 2020.
“We would like this program to continue, and even to expand,” Favinger said.
In addition to the internship stipends, the Career Center is using a portion of the Principal Foundation grant to help students acquire professional attire for career fairs and job interviews.
This plan hasn’t been finalized, but the Career Center is looking at allocating the money through an application process or partnering with another UNK organization to create a “career closet” where students can rent or receive professional attire at no cost.