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Now More than Ever: How Student Internships Promote Future Career Success

By Tom Post

Finishing college can be one of the most exciting phases of life. Students are eager to leave the crowded halls of higher education and dive into new job opportunities in pursuit of fulfilling careers. But graduating in the current era, amidst a global pandemic and the ensuing economic upheaval, presents unique challenges that can make this major milestone more stressful than exciting for students.

As ongoing layoffs and furloughs increase competition for open positions, navigating the job market becomes especially difficult for recent graduates. The effects of entering the workforce during an economic downturn can last for years, with some studies showing that students who graduate during this time take more time to find a job and earn lower starting salaries. Unfortunately, once the economy rebounds, the effects on these workers can persist, lasting up to 10 years or more.

In difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that we work together to support students and help them position themselves for success after graduation. Campus business partners, such as Sodexo, can serve as invaluable resources in supporting internship programs and helping students build their resumes. In the latest chapter of the President to President thought leadership series, Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa M. Núñez, Ed.D., describes how her institution collaborated with a large, locally based healthcare corporation to develop an innovative internship program. Núñez emphasizes the value of leveraging relationships with outside companies to support students’ professional development while simultaneously meeting the needs of area employers.

For many years, Sodexo has helped students gain professional experience in a variety of fields through internship programs at hundreds of college campuses across North America. With positions focused on culinary arts, nutrition, marketing, sustainability, and more, Sodexo internships allow students to explore career options while gaining valuable real-world experience.

Interns play a vital role in the success of Sodexo’s campus programs. They bring fresh perspectives and new ideas, and they bridge communication gaps between students and campus teams. For students, a Sodexo internship offers a competitive advantage in the job market. Internships help students build the skills employers want, including communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and more. Many former interns obtain full-time positions within Sodexo after graduation, using the opportunity to springboard into a successful career. To make it easy for students to identify and apply for internship opportunities, Sodexo launched SoStudents in 2019. The ultimate communications hub for current and future interns, SoStudents features information on internships, provides examples of intern-supported projects, and offers a platform for sharing experiences.

As college students approach graduation in our post-pandemic world, they will face a plethora of challenges. Offering internships that give them the skills, experience, and confidence they need to succeed is one way we support students and help them achieve their goals, both in college and beyond.

October 30, 2020

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