At some point in their college career, students seek an internship or some sort of job shadowing to get practical experience in the career field of their choice. Most internships, openings are competitive and they are not handed out like meal tickets. Most require prior experience in the field as far as tactics, marketing and understanding consumer culture. In order to help students acquire the proper qualifications for these opportunities, Alumni Relations and Career Services at the University of West Georgia has connected with several companies in Carrollton and Metro Atlanta to provide hands-on externships allowing students to spend a week in the life of a professional.
“We’re hoping when the students leave with employers saying they can see them working here,” said Fawn Hudson at a meeting speaking with potential students about the program.
The externship program is new to UWG and will run the week of Spring Break, which is March 16 to 20. Applications were open to undergraduate students with over 30 credit hours and graduate students who submitted a cover letter based on the type of experience they hoped to pursue.
The companies involved were asked to submit sample itineraries of the typical schedule and tasks they would have students participate in. Each student in the program is matched with a company that is closely suitable to their professional interests.
The objective of the externship program is to allow students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real world situations. Students are required to participate and shadow employee’s daily job duties, learn about business etiquette, observe faculty meetings and more.
On the first day of the program, students will tour the workplace, shadow entry level employees, have lunch with the team and sponsors and be introduced to the HR and CEO of the company. By the end of the week, students should have formed a strong relationship with the team and also gain a feel of the corporate industry.
Many UWG students are excited to be pioneers of the program and glad to apply their critical thinking, communication, leadership and other career skills obtained among their studies.
“I think this program is a great opportunity for students,” UWG psychology major Brittany Jenkins said. “My career field is so broad and the externship program will help narrow down the specific path I plan to choose. Also, if I get hired I may not consider going to graduate school or may only go if needed to work my way up.”
In addition to applying theoretical concepts to the career field, students will actively participate in workshops, including print writing and budgeting, to perfect necessary tasks performed by the company.
As an effort to ensure post-graduate success, UWG alumna and Director of Career Services, Vicki Hardin are asking students to record their everyday experiences in a journal and to return to Career Services the following week to give a testimony on the outcome of their job shadowing.
UWG hopes to continue the program so that each student participating can benefit from having a first-hand experience in a corporate setting, both making connections and observing professional behavior.