Internship Programs Ready and Retain Skilled Workforce

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News Release: Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce
November 13, 2014

VALDOSTA – Internship experience is highly beneficial to students, fresh graduates, and anyone looking to enter the work force in today’s competitive job market, but how can employers benefit from providing opportunities to students? According to Crystal Goode, Career Counselor and VSU Instructor, interns can be beneficial not only to businesses, but also to the business community as a whole.

“Logistically, interns can impact overall productivity as they can help with small or medium-sized projects and standard daily tasks, thereby allowing the more experienced professionals to work on more involved projects, perhaps even with some additional assistance from interns,” Goode explained.

Many employers offer internships not only for the short-term benefit, but also in planning for the future. Hiring the best candidate can be a major challenge for many businesses, but internship programs can help businesses develop talent for the long-term and filter potential candidates, also allowing employers to “test-drive” prospective employees. Goode explains, “Hiring an intern who has already been vetted is much less risky than hiring someone strictly because they interviewed well.” A 2012 survey study by shows that 69% of companies with 100 or more employees made full-time job offers to interns, and 85% of employers said that hiring interns was a positive experience. 53% of the surveyed organizations said they planned to hire more interns in 2013 than they did in 2012.

Doug Swords, now Vice President of Revenue Cycle Management for Azalea Health, knows first-hand the symbiotic value of internship experience, having begun his career in the healthcare IT industry with an internship. “The experience and skills I obtained through that internship helped kickstart my career while paving the way to the creation of Azalea Health,” Swords said. “Today, as an employer, Azalea Health finds tremendous value in employee internships. They have helped shape our organization in countless ways as our interns have moved up to positions of leadership in the company in areas such as software development, marketing, sales, revenue cycle management, client relations, and software training and support.”

Successful programs focus on mutual benefit for employers and interns. Students gain knowledge of business practices, industry patterns, and general operations while learning to develop and implement their ideas. The skills gained help interns to build attractive résumés ripe with experience. While many internships are unpaid, some organizations offer incentives such as transportation stipends or college credit. Employers receive fresh perspective from students who assist with the organization’s workload and often become permanent employees upon graduation. This business model helps to retain local talent while growing business, a winning scenario for students, employers and the business community.

Valdosta State University and the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Talent Connection recently partnered to provide a Career Opportunities discussion panel for students, focusing on the topic of internships. Justin Purvis (Young, Thagard, Hoffman, Smith & Lawrence, LLP), Erika Bennett (South Georgia Medical Center), Tymothy McGuire (USDA), and Addison Smith (Georgia Power), four of Valdosta’s MetroOne Young Professionals, answered questions posed by students about their own internships or other co-op, volunteer, and job experiences. The speakers also highlighted the relationship building opportunities available through internships.

Goode hoped the panel would help students understand the importance of the experiences and opportunities that arise from participating in internship programs. Purvis advised students to “make as many relationships and contacts as possible.” Smith added “It’s not just who you know, it’s who knows you.” Bennett shared from her experience with interning at SGMC before being an intern at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. Like many other interns, she received a full-time job offer because of the impression she made during her internship. Her next career move took her back to SGMC, due in part to the connections she made as an intern.

In addition to helping employers train and develop a skilled work force, internships provide an opportunity for organizations to contribute to the growth and development of the business community by preparing area students with the skills and opportunities for employment needed to keep them in the Valdosta-Lowndes area. The MetroOne Talent Connection partners talented students with local businesses and opportunities. If your business offers internship opportunities, please contact Varian Brown at 229-247-8100 ext. 234 for more information about this program.

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