Entering the office of cooperative education at The University of Texas Pan-American, a bright poster greets you that states "Today's preparation determines tomorrow's achievement." According to Susie Chapa, coordinator of the Cooperative Education Program in the Office of Career Placement Services, student internships can help provide this preparation for the student.
"Internships allow the students to learn what they want to do. Also, student interns have acquired the skills needed when they go apply for jobs in the real world," Chapa said. Also, Chapa said that the work experience and skills gained in internships can greatly improve a student's marketability upon graduation.
An internship is a program through which students receive supervised, career related experience by working full or part-time for a business, government agency or other organization. Often it is for one semester but can be set up for shorter or longer time periods or for special projects conducted by an employer. Often a student can receive college credit for internship experiences and can receive a salary or not.
"I saw how the government was structured and found I liked the government work environment," Garza said.
Besides the work experience, living away from home and having to arrange her own housing, transportation and bill payments each month helped her mature, Garza said.
Upon her return, Garza was then chosen for an intern/scholarship program at the Inter National Bank in McAllen where she interned as a personal banking representative. Garza was one of three UTPA students chosen this past year for the year-long program. This paid internship also provides a $2,500 scholarship per semester.
"I think the customer service and people skills plus the responsibility needed in dealing with required banking laws and procedures helped me in getting hired by the Social Security Administration," said Garza, who was recently hired in July as a claims representative for the McAllen Social Security Administration office.
Longoria said she was made aware of the internship opportunity through a campus e-mail from the UTPA career placement and cooperative education office.
"I didn't realize UTPA was so well equipped in offering summer internships with such big name companies like this," Longoria said.
Longoria will be paid, housed, fed and even provided a car when necessary to shuttle Cowboy players and other training camp visitors and corporate guests.
Aside from the opportunity to meet new people, Longoria hopes this internship experience will help her decide her ultimate career path.
"I hope this will help me zero in and focus on what I want to do and help with attaining my goals," she said.
UTPA has internship opportunities at a variety of businesses and organizations including IBM, H-E-B, The Monitor, Wal-Mart, IBC, Target, McAllen Chamber of Commerce, Walt Disney World, Xerox and the Smithsonian Institution. Chapa estimated up to 120 UTPA students participated in internships during the 2002-2003 academic year, not including the science and engineering internships.
Internships also benefit employers. Through internships employers are provided with educated and knowledgeable students, often majoring in the area related to the job needing to be filled.
Vincent S. Thompson, chief human resources officer for the Dallas Cowboys Football Club, said they hire from 60 to 70 interns from all over the U.S. for their training camp each summer in many different areas including administration, marketing, public relations, equipment and broadcasting.
Thompson said over the years he has been pleased with the interns from UTPA.
"They have been team players with real can-do attitudes during the camp," he said.
Chapa said her office is always searching for new internship opportunities and has many resources for students to learn about the internships that are available. Students can also learn about internship and permanent job placement opportunities through career fairs sponsored throughout the year by the career services office and cooperative education program Chapa said. The next career fair is scheduled for Sept. 25 on campus.
For more information, log on to the career placement website at www.careerservices.panam.edu or contact Chapa at 956/381-2781 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org