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University Internship Programs brings professional experience back to the classroom

<p>The University Internship Programs offers students the chance to gain professional experience while taking a course related to their work. </p>

The University Internship Programs offers students the chance to gain professional experience while taking a course related to their work. 

Since its start in 1976, the University Internship Programs has provided students with the opportunity to combine the professional sphere with classroom learning.

Directed by Prof. Karen Farber, UIP aims to match students' interests with a real-life work experience at the University, in the Charlottesville community or outside of the city through UIP’s “To-Go” summer internships.

“There’s definitely a learning curve at the beginning of the internship,” said fourth-year College student Earl Park, a Sorensen Institute intern. “Once you get over this curve, after being immersed in the program, it feels great to tackle projects on your own.”

To help ease students through the transition, UIP requires enrolled students to take an academic seminar along with their internship. Students take a four-credit psychology or sociology seminar to critique workplace experiences and discuss improvements.

“[The seminar] is manageable because the professor and the rest of the class know the internship is a time commitment, so the course load isn’t too heavy,” said University and UIP alumna Kyla Aragar, one of the program's student services coordinators. “It’s just enough to spark critical thinking on your experience.”

Interns said the programs offers them the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

“I’ve learned a lot of concrete skills that will be good for future interviews, because I can speak on these skills,” said fourth-year College student Emily Dell, a UIP intern.

Internships through UIP, Farber said, offer students more guidance than a traditional professional setting, and the program aims to provide students with valuable skills they can take with them after graduation.

“The biggest transition between college and the workplace is learning to be a producer, not a consumer,” said University and UIP alumna Stephanie Faires, also a UIP student services coordinator. “You don’t realize how much work goes into an event until you’re on the producer side of it.”

Though the program focuses on University students, UIP has a close relationship with the Charlottesville community, and the program evaluates internship site supervisors as well as potential interns.

“We get a lot of positive help and feedback from our internship sites in the community because they’re interested in developing students and giving back,” Aragar said.

Farber said an internship through UIP does not guarantee employment, but the positive relationships forged through an internship often lead to job offers.

“Based on my experience, I would hope to expand UIP to reach more University students,” Aragar said. “It’s a good tool that we need to take advantage of, especially for those who may be unsure of what they want to do after they graduate.”

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